Is Intelligent Design Science?

 

The purpose of this post is not to prove that Intelligent Design is true, nor that it is superior to naturalistic alernatives, but simply to raise awareness over some of the lines of evidence where Intelligent Design seems to be science. Let me also reject in advance those who dismiss ID with casual comments like, “There is no evidence whatsoever for ID,” “ID is creationism in a tuxedo, but still has no ticket for the party,” or “ID is no more scientific than astrology” or the like. These aren’t necessarily ridiculous positions to hold, but they require a lot more substance than most claimants (that I’ve encountered) are usually willing to muster. ID does not necessarily deserve credit or acceptance, but if satisfies the criteria for admission into scientific consideration then one cannot in good-intellectual-honesty dismiss it out of hand and still claim to be science minded.

First, ID employs a theory drawn from science, namely, information theory (see, Dembski’s The Design Inference)–information theory is a staple in SETI, Forensics, Archeology, Cryptology, Anthropology, etc.

Second, the problem with ID is not whether information theory is scientific, but whether astronomy, biology and chemistry are valid fields of applying information theory. Properly casting the nature of this debate is key to understanding the lines of argumentation. Those rebuking ID for elaborating “information theory” should instead focus their argument on the illegitimacy of applying information theory to fields like astronomy, biology and chemistry.

Third, ID does achieve claims that are, at least on a low level, falsifiable. For example, the Bacterial flagellum may be irreducibly complex if no more basic alternative-use formulations such as a (Type III secretory system [syringe type rod]) can be found which are constitutionally older than the flagellum. Applying ID theory to the flagellum renders a testable prediction, namely the falsifiable theory that if the flagellum is irreducibly complex then there will never be discovered a simpler same-function form nor an older a lternative-function form.

Fourth, neither naturalism nor materialism has been, historically, a necessary precondition for doing science, given the preponderance of religious scientists throughout history. It may be argued, weakly, that if one allows for supernatural causes one is discouraged or distracted from the hard task of finding natural, reliable, or material causes for natural phenomenon. While that possibility makes sense, it has not been the reality. Despite there being many non-theists (ie: no kind of God-belief) in the sciences, there are still a host of theists who have little trouble employing a methodological naturalism for much of their work while suspending that assumption where it might bias the data (such as, dismissing evidence for a miracle claim simply because naturalism demands dismissing all miracle claims). Stephen Jay Gould’s Non-overlapping Magisterium is a nice theory to safely quarantine religion and science from effecting each other, but both make metaphysical claims on history, humanity, and the natural world. And many scientists exist in the overlap for, despite the claims of casual anti-ID theorist, these science minded theists can readily admit the possibility of an active God without descending into a “magical” irrational view of nature.

Fifth, ID does bear fruit in further predictions and study. We can, for example, study and apply irreducible complexity theory anywhere in biology to see where it fits and where it does not. At minimum, such applications of ID force evolutionary alternatives to mount a more comprehensive/compelling set of unintelligent mechanisms since the known unintelligent mechanisms fail pretty badly on many cases. Pure evolutionary theory, for example, has the difficulty of explaining the reality of “true belief” given the non-intelligent mechanical causes of newtonian forces as it’s only physical forces, or, natural selection and genetic variations as it’s overriding biological forces. Sure one can appeal to conceptual models and thought experiments to argue for an evolutionary answer to this problem Plantinga calls “the Evolutionary Argument Against naturalism,” but that effort is bound to circularity, begging the question, since naturalistic answers ostensibly presuppose that intelligence arises from non-intelligence though that is precisely the premise needing defense.

For another example, ID predicts that the more irreducibly complex and higher specified complexity of something, the less capable we will be at demonstrating a viable evolutionary account. By testing evolutionary mechanisms against a given object–such as the Giraffe’s neck or the woodpecker’s tongue–we can see, according to the prediction, whether the known mechanisms of evolution easily explain it or not. If the Giraffe’s neck, which supposedly is irreducibly complex, then there would be no immediate and demonstrable explanation from naturalism for its appearance. If the Giraffe’s neck is slightly or greatly complex, and irreducible in either case, then evolutionary theory will have an easier or harder time, respectively, providing a viable account from natural causes that does not betray the kind of incrementalism espoused by Darwin nor, if one is okay with being in the scientific minority, the punctuated equilibrium espoused later. Remember though, that both sets of theories have their own burden of proof whereby they ought to exceed the (low) test of “explanatory” sufficiency and reach some kind of testibility.

Still a third example of how ID is fruitful with testable predictions, ID predicts that high-information content within organisms can devolve, but does not greatly evolve. Hence, we can subject microrganisms to generations of forced mutations to see if any give rise to sustainable gains in specified complexity. Fourth, ID presents tremendous applications for the search for extra-terrestrials (ie: non-human intelligences), and reapplication of information theory in forensics, cryptology, computer programming, Artificial Ingelligence, and archeology. Fifth, and implied above, ID also presents a valuable frame of reference for critiquing the monopoly of evolutionary theory (such that many evolutionists are not aware of any explanatory gaps or weaknesses within evolutionary theory). And what is science if not a free-exchange of alternative theories and findings achieving the market-capitalism of ideas whereby poorly framed hypotheses can be honed and improved, or ground down into oblivion.< /p>

Sixth, it is not very scientific to put faith in evolutionary theory to IN THE FUTURE resolve present ignorance. Evolution-of-the-gaps is no less dogmatic and faith based than is God of the gaps. And frankly, a great deal of force behind the rejection of ID is fueled by faith in evolutionary theory to explain aspects of nature that are yet unknown. Though evolution, according to typical evolutionists, has been well verified on many accounts, scientists pride themselves on respecting no authorities and refraining from all faith or dogma in place of their science. Where evolution has not been DEMONSTRATED to explain a certain phenomenon it remains a theory, or, at best a hypothesis. But any use of said hypothesis prior to experimentation risks being philosophy or even theology. Scientists are more than allowed to do philosophy, they just have to sacrifice the authority and credibility of “Science-says-so-and-so” when they are philosophizing.

Seventh, NO scientific claim is DEDUCTIVELY verifiable–as that would entail the kind of certainty achieved only in logic and math. It would not be fair to demand of Intelligent Design a degree of certainty that the rest of science rarely if ever achieves. All scientific claims, even the strongest ones, are limited to INDUCTIVE probability never deductive certainty since they are fundamentally empirical (not rationalistic or formalistic in their metaphysics or epistemology).

Eighth, ,any theoretical streams within science are deemed “scientific” though they conceptually and practically defy testability (whether verification or falsification)–just as Theoretical Physics like String Theory.

Ninth, whatever else “science” means, there would seem to be something inherently unscientific about disqualifying what may be true and treat any related questions as uninteresting since they are not bound by naturalism. Science should not be too proud to investigate the mating habits of insects nor the possibility of a non-human intelligence.

Tenth, science itself could not exist without philosophy of science to establish it’s nature and parameters. Truth be told, ID tests the demarcation problem for Science though many scientists themselves may have never known there was any problem demarcating Natural Science from other fields of study like theology or philosophy. Scientists hate to admit this, as there is a generally negative view of metaphysics entire even though every scientist is, by the nature of the field, a part time metaphysician. To illustrate, it was philosophy of science that gave birth to the scientific method which gave birth modern science. This point is relevant because the natural sciences rightly incorporate under the title of “science” things that were never purely “science. The scientific method was not hatched in a lab but in the mind of philosophical-theological-scientists. We would sacrifice too much if we cut off any “philosophy” or “theology” as non-science simply because it is not testable in a lab as that would forbid the scientific method itself–which is philosophy, and not itself testable within the parameters of science.

Eleventh, it is a genetic fallacy and a fallacy of association to fault ID for having young-earthers, religious people (who are presumed “biased”), or otherwise unliked characters among its members. We should remember that early chemists are largely indistinguishable from alchemists–yet we would not want to dismiss their work as “unscientific” just because they were still dabbling in pseudoscience. We would not want to morally fault science for its association among Nazi experimenters in WWII. Abuse does not bar use. And if ID is abused or genetically tainted by some of its practitioners we still have the theory itself to deal with lest we mistakenly burn the message because of the messenger. Conversely, we cannot rightly fault the findings of atheistic humanists in science because they, perhaps, have an anti-theological bias or might be “swayed” by their irreligion or humanism or atheism. Biased people can still do good science provided there’s is not an overriding bias.

In conclusion, a compelling case can be made that ID is indeed science and therefore it deserves a hearing among science minded people.

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621 replies
  1. Nathan Barley says:

    I’m not aware that ID hasn’t been given a fair hearing. But it always fails when it’s given that hearing. Witness the debacle in court at the Dover trial. See how Behe’s claims fall apart as soon as they’re examined.

    “Sixth, it is not very scientific to put faith in evolutionary theory to IN THE FUTURE resolve present ignorance.”

    Evolution now has so much evidence to support it that it is pretty much perverse not to take it as read when attempting to solve problems. There are plenty of other theories that are similarly taken as read.

    “…since they are not bound by naturalism”

    Isn’t it true that the supernatural is by definition impossible to subject to science?

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  2. Charles says:

    -Isn’t it true that the supernatural is by definition impossible to subject to science?

    This has been my question as well regarding the use of heavy analysis of what ancient scriptures convey about concepts like Spirituality. Can the metaphysical be accurately studied without a Faithbased understanding of scripture? Honestly, I don’t think so because there would have to be a foundation of Spiritual understanding and sensitivity in order to prove any thoeries or hypotheses with scientific objectivity. This is also why I believe the void between Science and Faith is so vast, yet I “feel” there is an absolute connection. I don’t subscribe to any “missing link” theory, however, I would be hard pressed to simply rule out any supernatural/natural transcendance.

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  3. Dan says:

    -Isn’t it true that the supernatural is by definition impossible to subject to science?

    I think what ID tries to say is that the “supernatural” is/could be a natural part of creation.

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  4. Toby R. says:

    Could you elaborate on information theory in the context of this argument?

    “Still a third example of how ID is fruitful with testable predictions, ID predicts that high-information content within organisms can devolve, but does not greatly evolve.”

    Could you define “devolve” and give examples?

    I know you stress that the flagellum MAY be irreducibly complex, but a simple google turns up:

    “Scientists regard this argument as having been disproved in the light of research dating back to 1996 as well as more recent findings. They point out that the basal body of the flagella has been found to be similar to the Type III secretion system (TTSS), a needle-like structure that pathogenic germs such as Salmonella and Yersinia pestis use to inject toxins into living eucaryote cells. The needle’s base has ten elements in common with the flagellum, but it is missing forty of the proteins that make a flagellum work. Thus, this system negates the claim that taking away any of the flagellum’s parts would render it useless. On this basis, Kenneth Miller notes that, “The parts of this supposedly irreducibly complex system actually have functions of their own.””

    I don’t see how a giraffe’s neck is irreducibly complex. It has the same amount of bones in it that a human has–seven. Hell, a horse has more–nine. Gee, go explain that one. A horse must be more complex than a giraffe. How does one come up with something being more complex than something else?

    My biggest question concerning intelligent design is why we see no wildly different genetic material among creatures? Why not “design” a dog with RNA as the main genetic material rather than DNA? Why don’t we see alternate nucleobases such as 7-methylguanine or xanthine? Why not some completely different genetic material?

    The point is that as many creatures that are on the planet and we have such similar structure, such as having the same number of neck vertebrae as giraffes, and the same genetic material as . . . well, virtually everything, which points us to common ancestry. Irreducible complexity seems like a “gap argument”. We don’t know how coagulation evolved (or flagellum or eyes—that’s the big three right?) . . . therefore it didn’t, it was designed and there were no precursors. That is bad science to the letter; a stifling of thought and research.

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  5. Tim D. says:

    We would not want to morally fault science for its association among Nazi experimenters in WWII. Abuse does not bar use.

    If only you guys felt this way about stem cell research!

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  6. Nathan barley says:

    Saying the Nazis were evil doesn’t make them unscientific. So it’s not a great comparison. The point about the creationists is that they’re unscientific, not that they’re evil.

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  7. Nathan Barley says:

    We can see science as being like a court trying to get as close to the truth as possible. In the case of the beginning of life, science assumes the culprit is ‘natural causes’. The culprit, to put it mildly, has previous – it’s responsible for most (arguably all) of what we see in the natural world.

    Intelligent Design says we should consider two other culprits – magic or aliens. Its basis for this is asserting that ‘natural causes’ wasn’t capable of committing the crime.

    Now in a REAL court of law, where we all agree that only one human could possibly have committed a crime, a crime similar to crimes the same person has committed before, we would not accept a defence that it might have been either magic or aliens who committed the crime. The only evidence on the defence’s side is a basic argument from ignorance – they consider that the human couldn’t have done it (irreducable complexity). Especially unconvincing given that the prosecution has some pretty good ideas about the method.

    So if you were in court, would you accept magic or aliens as a possible culprit for a crime? I’d say no – once you do there’s no crime in the world that couldn’t be so blamed, as no motive would be needed (the accused is unknowable), and no need to show ability (the accused has ultimate power).

    That’s why I consider ID to be unscientific.

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  8. Charles says:

    -Intelligent Design says we should consider two other culprits – magic or aliens. Its basis for this is asserting that ‘natural causes’ wasn’t capable of committing the crime.

    In a court of law eyewitness accounts are used as well as character witnesses along with forensics to get to as much truth “as possible”. Forensics would be the only natural form of evidence as witnesses can carry biases and council uses semantics, euphemism and strategic witness selection to form a case for or against the accused. But, even forensics can be spun; especially with regards to motivators like money or fame.

    ID can be a real scientific method that answers many questions that conventional science finds difficult. Conventional science is bound by nature making it near impossible to reach outside of space/time. The only disciplines that seem to scientifically transcend nature are mathmatics or quantum physics/algebra/mechanics and even these are bound by what we can physically see. The universe “began” so something or Someone had to initiate it from outside of space/time.

    Conventional science alone is the finite trying to expel the Infinite through finite means. ID is the finite beginning to understand the Infinite and Its relationship to the finite.

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  9. Nathan Barley says:

    “In a court of law eyewitness accounts are used as well as character witnesses along with forensics to get to as much truth “as possible”.”

    Charlies, although no analogy is perfect, I don’t see how anything in your post argues against what I was saying.

    In fact, the situation is worse than I described – one couldn’t even argue that the ‘modus operendi’ points to natural causes, as people will often argue against DNA evidence for common descent by saying “How do you know that God didn’t make it look like natural causes for his own reason?”. In other words, it’s like someone in court saying that a magical entity not only committed the crime, but deliberately did it in such a way to make it LOOK like it was done by a particular person.

    “ID can be a real scientific method that answers many questions that conventional science finds difficult.”

    Where would we have been in the past if we answered a question that science found difficult with “It must have been God/magic/aliens”? What great discoveries would we not have made? For years it was understood that orbit of the planet Mercury defied known science. It was moving in a way that made no sense to astronomers. A popular explanation was that this was proof of the hand of God, guiding objects in the heavens. No further questions needed? No, not until Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity gave us the real explanation.

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  10. Ed says:

    “We can see science as being like a court trying to get as close to the truth as possible.”

    Response: The study of nature has nothing to do with “truth.” Truth is a philosophical and theological plaything. It’s something people with too much time on their hands talk about.

    “ID can be a real scientific method that answers many questions that conventional science finds difficult.”

    Response: Sorry but scientific method says that no finding is the final word and all findings are subject to future revision or even outright rebuttal. ID Magic fails because it ignores the FACT that life is designed from the bottom up by natural selection. So ID Magic explains absolutely nothing and it never will.

    “The universe “began” so something or Someone had to initiate it from outside of space/time.

    Response: How do you know the mass-energy that comprises the universe hasn’t always existed in one form or another? If God could have always existed then so could have the universe.” So Charles, your argument fails.

    Intelligent Design Magic is nothing more than Christian creationism poorly disguised in a lab coat.

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  11. Nathan Barley says:

    Ed: “The study of nature has nothing to do with “truth.” Truth is a philosophical and theological plaything. It’s something people with too much time on their hands talk about.”

    Ed, I’m on your side regarding creationism, ID, the supernatural etc, but this is an odd response to me. I really didn’t see that I was saying anything controversial there. What word would you prefer I use about the aim of science? I meant nothing philosophical and theological when I used the word ‘truth’. I just meant establishing… the truth. What happened. Reality. Again, what word would you prefer?

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  12. John Ferrer says:

    Kip,

    In response to the claim of “disteleology” (bad-design–> therefore “God” would not have designed such a thing) a couple things can be said.

    1) Trade-offs: Biological features usually serve multiple purposes at once, and so poor design in regards to one purpose is good design in regards to another, hence, as any engineer knows, one must make a trade-off to effectively satisfy the complex demands on a single biological feature. To illustrate we may consider a car. Car’s can be spacious, safe, and fast but they cannot maximize all of those at once. There must be a trade-off in speed if it’s going to be spacious and safe, and there’s going to be a loss of spaciousness if we make it like a nascar which is safe and face, etc. in regards to the laryngeal nerve of the Giraffe, an ID theorist can safely predict from his theory that if this feature is a case of irreducible complexity (I’m not sure specified complexity applies as directly in this case) then the seemingly over-long nerve will serve at least one other purpose which is accomodated by that length. For example, there may be neural bypass mechanism whereby, without having to go to the brain and back, a neuronal impulse can go from a pain sensation lower in the body to a “yelp” in the voice box in a shorter time than if it had to go all the way back to the brain and return again to the voice box.

    2) ID allows for evolution: ID does not exclude all forms of evolution nor speciation. One has to affirm only one case of intelligent design to be an intelligent design theorist. Hence there are agnostic/secular ID theorists (David Berlinski), there are atheist ID theorists (Bradley Monton–he doesn’t consider ID to have proven itself as true but he does consider it science) and many others who do not fit neatly into the typical creationist camps. What ID CANNOT tolerate is the notion that Darwinism can explain ALL biological diversity. It is perfectly compatible however to say that a non-human intelligence designed some feature while allowing natural forces (evolutionary mechanisms) to design others. while typically ID theorists are highly skeptical of evolutionary theory entire, many are willing to admit critical aspects of evolutionary theory such as low-grade speciation (see, Michael Behe’s “Edge of Evolution”).

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  13. John Ferrer says:

    I don’t have time to respond to everyone’s points but I have called in some help so you guys can get a responsible dialogue going.

    I do have time to respond to Ed though. Ed, is what you just said “true”? If so you refuted yourself. If not, then we don’t need to listen to you since you are telling lies.

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  14. John Ferrer says:

    Nathan Barley,

    In response to your first post, I agree that ID theorists often do mishandle their case. That’s why I would distinguish between the message and the messenger. Your point is well made though, if one does not see the message presented effectively and persuasively it may be the messenger’s fault but that certainly doesn’t help the message to look like a real candidate.

    As for the Dover trial, there are a few problems with that trial which deserve note. I had a chance to talk with Bill Dembski about that trial and he was invited to help present for the defense. Dembski was concerned that they did not have a case because of the specifics of the trial and who the defendant was. He saw it as misconceived and poorly crafted. MIchael Behe did the best he could but at that time, the notion of disteleology was fairly new and had not be widely rebutted with the notion or evidence of “trade-offs” nor had the notion of “alternative design” (ie: Miller’s Tie-clip) been widely addressed. The defendant’s error is that they WERE creationists with only a thin veil of ID theory papering over their creationism. Dembski saw the difference and saw the problems therein and though he tried to help and counsel them about it he did not testify in the trial. The textbook they were using had gone through at least one creationist draft before arriving at an ID-friendly formulation. That was a punishing piece of evidence for the prosecution.

    We may however cite forged “missing links” such as Piltdown Man as a counterexample of how mishandled theories may be still be a good message despite the misuses and abuses of the messenger.

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  15. John Ferrer says:

    Ed, so it is factually correct that science does not deal in truth? Is that true or false?

    (we can go at this for days, but the point is you are refuting yourself whether you realize it or not. Rephrasing “truth” as “factually correct” does nothing to help your case, and it makes you out as saying all science has ever told us about reality is false)

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  16. Nathan Barley says:

    John, with the giraffe’s detouring nerve, it seems the most likely explanation is that that originally the nerve made a much more direct route, back when the animal’s ancestor had a shorter neck. Then when the neck grew, over millions of years, the nerve got dragged down with it, because it wasn’t possible to start from scratch and ‘re-route’ it. There are many similar examples in nature.

    We can argue about what is ‘most likely’, but to me it’s perverse to reject the above explanation, unless one also posits supernatural alternatives to any scientific explanation.

    Imagine you go into a drawing room and look at the TV plugged into the wall right next to it. The wire makes a direct route, except it bends slightly around a lamp which is between the TV and the plug. Then you go into another drawing room, and the lamp is six feet away from the plug and the TV. The wire STILL bends around it – but now, instead of making a 12 inch journey, it travels 12 feet. Now, you can see by grooves in the carpet that the lamp USED to be in the same position as in the other room, but gradually got moved across the room, a bit at a time.

    Now, while it is POSSIBLE that an interior designer decided – for reasons we can’t fathom – that it would be best for the wire to bend all the way across the room around the lamp and back again, the most likely explanation is that the wire simply started off making a reasonably direct route, and then got dragged across the room as the lamp moved.

    In other words, it wasn’t due to any kind of trade-off, it was just because starting from scratch wasn’t an option. Evolution is like one of those power stations where it’s never possible to shut the whole thing down for a while to introduce new technology, so new technology must be built ON TOP OF existing technology, working with what already exists (this actually happens in some power stations).

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  17. Nathan Barley says:

    “many are willing to admit critical aspects of evolutionary theory such as low-grade speciation (see, Michael Behe’s “Edge of Evolution”).”

    As I understand it, Behe accepts Common Descent. By the way, off topic but I listened to an interview today with Behe’s son Leo. He said the book that turned him to atheism was The God Delusion, which I found quite ironic given the animosity between Behe and Dawkins.

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  18. John Ferrer says:

    Nathan, you said:

    “Isn’t it true that the supernatural is by definition impossible to subject to science?”

    I used to agree with you in your implication here. But I’m not convinced anymore because if there were a miracle, lets just say it happened for the sake of argument, it seems anti-scientific to rope off that site, and prevent anyone from inquiring into the supernatural status of that event. But, if we can investigate that site we can perhaps deduce by analogy with human intelligence (and ALL scientific deductions/inductions are by analogy) what kind of intelligence could have triggered that event. We can know causes, at least in part, from their effects. In the case of say the bacterial flagellum we can make low-grade inferences about a designer by analogy with human design knowing that no humanly created motor has come close to mimicking the efficiency and function of the bacterial flagellum HENCE it is likely designed by a designer whose abilities exceed our current knowledge of outboard motors. ID is not specific about whether this designer is an RNA based alien life form (as in Darkin’s open suggestion of Panspermia in “Expelled”) or a God.

    Lastly, ID does not necessitate that all design comes from a single designer. To the best of my knowledge it has no mechanism for unifying each inferred case of design into one single designer. Hence it is chronically misrepresentative and misleading to identify ID as Creationism since ID has no tenet for unifying the cases of design into a single designer whereas Creationism (which BTW is definitively young-earth model–which many/most ID theorists reject) requires there to be a single designer. It’s not hard to find in creationist websites that there is great antipathy between Creationists and ID. One might as well call a Shi’ite Muslim and a Sunni Muslim the same thing. It’s an amateur ignorant mistake.

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  19. John Ferrer says:

    Nathan, I saw the video too and I’m familiar with the naturalistic explanation. My “trade-off” argument, employing ID theory, makes a falsifiable prediction whereby the elongation of the nerve serves some alternative purpose as well as the purpose you speak of. You are postulating a theory–which is fine–but there’s still a standing falsifiable testing that can be done with the ID hypothesis in this case. Namely, it is not enough to show that a feature is impractical in regards to one purpose, one must go further and show that feature does not constitute a workable trade-off in regards to its multiple functions. The laryngeal nerve, if I understand it correctly, is not a one-way road sending noise impulses from the brain to the larynx but can send impulses to the brain and receive impulses from other parts of the body, hence a long length would be a GOOD design in regards to reflexes since its length allows it a more direct route from other parts of the body to the voice box.

    Nevertheless, I’m not making the case for all of ID theory as being true, or even as being the best explanation in this case, I’m merely pointing out a feasible explanation for why “trade-offs” constitute a testable prediction emerging from ID theory whereby ID can be experimented upon and can bear fruitful results in scientific investigation (both of which are tenets that people commonly claim ID fails to satisfy in its efforts to enter the halls of science).

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  20. Nathan Barley says:

    Thanks John. So, referring to my court analogy:

    1) Do you think that a court allowing for the possibility of miracles, magic, the supernatural etc, would increase or decrease the chance of a fair trial?

    2) Now consider the same question, but regarding miracles etc in scientific enquiry.

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  21. Nathan Barley says:

    John, I agree that biology is full of trade-offs, and that it’s not good to always assume you know what the best situation would be.

    I’m reading a good book at the moment called Kluge, about the human brain. The specific argument of the book is that the brain bears the marks of a stuck together system, which functions well enough (very well in many ways) but in many respects is the result of ‘building on existing systems’, as I said before, rather than being designed from scratch. So yes, trade-offs are made, but they are ones made on the fly, as it develops, without foresight, without the ability to start over again.

    BTW, one definition of a kluge is “a software or hardware configuration that, while inelegant, inefficient, clumsy, or patched together, succeeds in solving a specific problem or performing a particular task”

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  22. Tim D. says:

    I know this is a bit behind on the topic as I haven’t been lurking here, but this caught my eye:

    In fact, the situation is worse than I described – one couldn’t even argue that the ‘modus operendi’ points to natural causes, as people will often argue against DNA evidence for common descent by saying “How do you know that God didn’t make it look like natural causes for his own reason?”. In other words, it’s like someone in court saying that a magical entity not only committed the crime, but deliberately did it in such a way to make it LOOK like it was done by a particular person.

    There’s an episode of When The Seagulls Cry where two of the main characters are trying to figure out who committed a crime. The first character suggests that the crime was “obviously” committed by another group of people in the same room; the second character responds by saying, “That would be stupid to make it so obvious; it had to be someone more devious, who committed the crime in such a way as to only make it look like it was that group of people!”

    The first character points out that, by this logic, she herself would have the most obvious motive to do such a thing….but then, also by that logic, she couldn’t have committed the crime either, because that would be obvious and draw attention to herself.

    I’ve never been much of a fan of the “created so as to appear aged” story of creation because it abides by this same “logic.”

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  23. John Ferrer says:

    Tim D., about the stem cell research point. I’m not sure what you are getting at. No one is saying that stem cell research is unscientific. it’s moral implications are the rub, not its scientific status. Likewise, if the Nazi experimenters were conducting immoral lab tests, that is no less scientific, it’s just evil.

    Morality neither qualifies nor disqualifies science. Science is amoral.

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  24. Ed says:

    Nathan asks: “What word would you prefer I use about the aim of science? I meant nothing philosophical and theological when I used the word ‘truth’. I just meant establishing… the truth. What happened. Reality. Again, what word would you prefer?”

    John asks: “Ed, so it is factually correct that science does not deal in truth? Is that true or false?”

    The answer: Science does not deal in truth, only in probability.

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  25. Nathan Barley says:

    Ed, you’re playing with semantics. I’m well aware of how science works. I wasn’t making stupid statements about ‘proving things’ with science. In a colloquial sense there’s nothing wrong with saying that science is about determining the truth, or determining reality. What would you have preferred I say? “Science is about determining probability”? The probability of what?

    “Likewise, if the Nazi experimenters were conducting immoral lab tests, that is no less scientific, it’s just evil.”

    John, that’s why I had problems with your analogy – our problem with the Nazis was their morality. Our problem with the creationists (the YEC at least) is not that they’re evil (although some of them most know that they’re lying and misleading people). It’s that they are starting from an unscientific position – that a literal interpretation of the bible takes preference over ANY contrary evidence, no matter how well supported –

    Reply
  26. Charles says:

    -The answer: Science does not deal in truth, only in probability.

    I agree; and if I may add, probability is a mathmatic discipline in itself.
    So with science alone it seems like a “rabbit hole effect”.

    Reply
  27. John Ferrer says:

    So Ed and Charles, is it true that science deals in probability? Is it true that Science has established that the earth probably revolves around the sun?

    Nathan, I agree that it is problematic to begin one’s science by presuming that the Bible should take preference of any contrary evidence. I also think it’s problematic to presume, at the start of a scientific inquiry, that either naturalism or supernaturalism is true and trumps any contrary evidence.

    Reply
  28. Nathan Barley says:

    “also think it’s problematic to presume, at the start of a scientific inquiry, that either naturalism or supernaturalism is true and trumps any contrary evidence”

    John, I already explained my stance on this issue with my question to you earlier:

    1) Do you think that a court allowing for the possibility of miracles, magic, the supernatural etc, would increase or decrease the chance of a fair trial?

    2) Now consider the same question, but regarding miracles etc in scientific enquiry.

    Reply
  29. Ed says:

    “So Ed and Charles, is it true that science deals in probability? Is it true that Science has established that the earth probably revolves around the sun?”

    Response: Well according to your Association for Biblical Astronomy “science” has established that, as several Bible passages clearly indicate, the earth is the center of the universe and does not move. Haven’t you read “Geocentricity” by famous young earth creationist Gerardus Bouw? Bouw explains that, “If God cannot be taken seriously when He writes [in the Bible] of the rising sun, then how can one insist that he be taken literally when writing of the rising of the Son?” At least Bouw has the nerve to defend what the Bible really says, unlike many modern Christians who try to distort a very important biblical “truth.”

    “Our problem with the creationists (the YEC at least) is not that they’re evil (although some of them most know that they’re lying and misleading people.”

    Oh you don’t think Henry Morris was evil? From Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings, Creation-Life Publishes, San Diego: “Sometimes the Hamites, especially the Negroes, have even become actual slaves to the others. Possessed of a genetic character concerned mainly with mundane, practical matters, they have often eventually been displaced by the intellectual and philosophical acumen of the Japhethites and the religious zeal of the Semites.” Think again.

    There are still Christian groups who espouse racism and who believe their views are based on science such as the American Nazi Party and the KKK as did the Christian whites in South Africa and Christian slaveholders in the South of the U.S. During the time of their practice of apartheid South Africa was a Protestant Christian nation that gave more money for missions per capita than America. It was illegal to teach evolution in schools and the government did not allow the broadcast of any of Carl Sagan’s COSMOS programs that dealt with evolution. So, creationism and Christianity in South Africa went hand in hand with apartheid. Creationists are not evil? Think again.

    “Likewise, if the Nazi experimenters were conducting immoral lab tests, that is no less scientific, it’s just evil.”

    It must be noted that Adolph Hitler was a Bible believing Christian creationist who totally rejected evolutionary theory. Nazi eugenics was never based on evolution but rather the notion of racial superiority taught by Christianity for centuries. Christian creationism was taught as science in the German public schools and this went on long past the end of the war all the way until 1960. The last two public school systems to reject evolution and teach creationism instead were in Germany and South Africa. So we see very clearly the kind of public policies Christian creationism leads to. If there is a greater evil than creationism or a worst human tragedy than Christianity someone tell me what that could be.

    Reply
  30. Nathan Barley says:

    “Oh you don’t think Henry Morris was evil?”

    Ed, I think we’re disappearing down rabbit trails here. My point was their evilness or otherwise is irrelevant to my major problems with creationists.

    “It must be noted that Adolph Hitler was a Bible believing Christian creationist who totally rejected evolutionary theory.”

    This is true, but is nothing to do with the point any of us were making.

    Ed, I’m an atheist too, but trust me, if you are trying to rile any Christians up here it’s not going to work. The best way to change their minds is to politely address the points they are making. And if you don’t care about changing minds and just want to annoy some Christians, politely addressing their points is still the best way!

    Reply
  31. Charles says:

    -So Ed and Charles, is it true that science deals in probability? Is it true that Science has established that the earth probably revolves around the sun?

    John, I see your point, If anything is true then how can anything be probable? Well, what I am concerned with is how science is limited. As a Christian, not necessarily a “YEC”, I am persuaded that our universe entails a whole lot more than what we humans can understand. As I was stating, There seems to be a “rabbit hole” effect when it comes to temporal disciplines such as science. I will not dispute the advancements and contributions science makes. Indeed we have learned many truths; but there are many more questions that are produced with those truths and I believe it will take more than science alone to get to the absolute truth which I do believe exists.

    ps.
    -Ed, I’m an atheist too, but trust me, if you are trying to rile any Christians up here it’s not going to work. The best way to change their minds is to politely address the points they are making. And if you don’t care about changing minds and just want to annoy some Christians, politely addressing their points is still the best way!

    Speaking for myself, as Christian I am not annoyed at all; as a matter of fact, thanks for your honesty and passion for what you believe.

    Reply
  32. John Ferrer says:

    BTW, to clear things up a bit I think science is wonderful. I’m very glad for it and all the technological advances that have come from the belief in a rational universe that is sensibly arranged whereby we can make life easier and discover our world through inquiry into natural causes and effects.

    Nathan, I think that presuming naturalism or supernaturalism are both liable to skew a court case just as well as skew a science experiment. I think the proper position is neutrality, agnosticism, not methodological atheism nor methodological creationism. If a miracle happened science should allow its investigation. If miracles don’t happen science should allow that investigation of non-miracles. Remember, even supernaturalists grant that miracles are rare and natural causes are by far the more common and likely possibilities for given events (all else being equal)

    Reply
  33. Nathan barley says:

    John, if you think that presuming natural causes in court is LESS likely to produce a fair trial then I don’t know what to say to you. You think courts in Africa where black magic is presumed to be possible that a fair trial is more likely?

    Reply
  34. Nathan barley says:

    Can you think of crime that you could NOT be accused of, if the supernatural is accepted as being possible? Weren’t in the same country, weren’t born at the time? No problem, you teleported or travelled back in time!

    Reply
  35. Tim D. says:

    Can anyone here name a miracle? Not in the bible or other holy book I mean.

    Well by the dictionary definition of miracle, I’d say the logic Christians use to defend the Bible is pretty “miraculous”….given that a miracle is something that cannot be explained.

    Reply
  36. Ed says:

    Nathan,
    What makes you think I’m an atheist? Just kidding. I’m not trying to rile, annoy or change any Christian’s minds here. Bible believers have an incredible capacity for make believe. When Bible believers see convincing evidence that would surely change any rational person’s mind about what they believe they simply pretend that Satan is just making this evidence LOOK convincing through trickery. It doesn’t matter how good a piece of evidence may appear to a believer they can always justify ignoring it by playing make believe.

    John said: BTW, to clear things up a bit I think science is wonderful. I’m very glad for it and all the technological advances that have come from the belief in a rational universe that is sensibly arranged whereby we can make life easier and discover our world through inquiry into natural causes and effects.

    Response: John, your post does nothing to disguise your hatred and fear of advancing science. Technological advances have never come from a “belief” and scientists do not believe the universe is either rational or sensibly arranged. Rationality is a human characteristic. Leave to religious people to superimpose human characteristics on inanimate objects. The configuration of the universe and our planet actually hinders scientific discovery. If the characteristics of the universe were sensibly arranged, they would be easy to discover and this would mean we live in a simple universe. However, Intelligent Design Magic proponents keep telling us how complex things are. Can’t have it both ways John.

    John said: Nathan, I think that presuming naturalism or supernaturalism are both liable to skew a court case just as well as skew a science experiment. I think the proper position is neutrality, agnosticism, not methodological atheism nor methodological creationism.

    Response: What in the world is methodological creationism? Trying to make a man from dirt, a woman from a rib or grow magic trees that will give us knowledge or make us immortal?

    John said: If a miracle happened science should allow its investigation. If miracles don’t happen science should allow that investigation of non-miracles. Remember, even supernaturalists grant that miracles are rare and natural causes are by far the more common and likely possibilities for given events (all else being equal)

    Response: There are no verifiable miracles and absolutely no evidence for any supernatural realm or bogeys. We can safely assume that there is nothing supernatural unless and until some evidence for it turns up some day. It won’t.

    Reply
  37. John Ferrer says:

    nathan and Tim, if someone presumes a miracle happened, he or she still has a burden of proof to bear. If other natural means provide a more feasible explanation, then by Ockham’s razor we should not multiple or complicate causes unnecessarily. But if we presume miracles cannot happen, then we are willfully biased to where if there were such a thing we have prohibited its investigation. Are you saying it is scientific to prohibit inquiry?

    Remember, even for a supernaturalist, we readily admit that 99.9% of the time events happen by natural causes, and so the heavy burden of proof is on the miracle claimant to show that natural causes are an inadequate explanation for a given event while also showing that there are positive reasons for thinking a naturally accessible (ie: not mystically) non-natural cause can be inferred.

    The scenarios you bring up about black magic would fail by the criteria I list. We know from microbiology and germ theory that (for example) Flo’s cows died by disease but no positive case can be made that there is a causal relation between Joe’s black magic cursing of the cows and their actual dying. We have only correlational data and accusation to support the “Joe’s Cursing” theory. it’s impossible to falsify some claims, but if they have no positive evidence in their favor either, then they aren’t verified either. We could likewise theorize that the universe doubled in size last night, or we’re all brains in vats, or the universe began five minutes ago complete with illusory memories and perceived age–these are not falsifiable theories, nor are they verifiable, hence they aren’t worth talking about. One has every right to believe what they want about these kinds of non-scientific theories, but lacking any scientific theory in which to frame these claims, and lacking any predictability, or fruitfulness, or testibility, they simply do not rise to the level of scientific respectability.

    BTW, I’m a harsh skeptic against most miracle claims and believe them to be far less common than many believers make them out to be. I would relegate most of them to anomalies or falsities. So if you ask me to list a miracle that’s not recorded in Scripture I’m not sure I can, at least, not one that constitutes a tight definition of “miracle” and is still defensible by my own criteria. By my own criteria, most miracles are NOT scientifically verifiable. While I grant the Virgin Birth, I don’t posit that as a scientifically demonstrable miracle. No one was following her with a video camera. That scene is just not subject to falsification nor verification within the scientific method. One can still believe it, but not on the grounds of natural science. Likewise, one can still believe in abstract objects, love, or 1st person perspective even though, by definition, science cannot ever in any way access these things to verify them within the realm of the scientific method.

    Reply
  38. John Ferrer says:

    tim, I think it was you who asked about “devolved.” That would mean a change within or between species which constitutes a loss of genetic information. An example would be antibiotic resistent bacteria. If it is true, by ID theory, that high levels of information do not emerge naturally, then a bacterium which naturally changes to become resistant to antibiotics is either not a high level of information or it will have lost information in its respective recoding and not gained information (ie: specified complexity–think of it as losing volumes of an encyclopedia series versus gaining volumes of it). Things can evolve down in order and not up in order. And that devolution tends to get highly unstable the further you get from it’s originally found order. ID theory predicts all of this.

    So, for another example, if we can recode the fruitfly to have 2 extra wings–by ADDING information–there are a couple ways that ID theory can address that. First, that information may have already been present elsewhere in the genetic coding of the fruitfly, and so it’s not really added, just unlocked. Second, perhaps fruitflies have a natural range of mutable features within its species such as size and coloration which may include, in rare cases, an extra set of wings. Again, the information was already present within the species of fruitfly. Third, since we know that those extra wings have never been functional for flight they constitute precisely the kind of mutation that ID theorists already admit–the neutral and inhibiting kind. Fourth, if the fruit flies wings were added by scientific tampering the scientist still must show that their methodology mimicks naturally arising phenomenon or else they’ve proven nothing more than a fruit-fly frankenstein, or, in other words, that intelligent intervention can create new life.

    In conclusion, “devolve” is a technical term referring to the loss of information and it functions within the testable predictions of ID theory.

    Reply
  39. Ed says:

    John said: If it is true, by ID theory, that high levels of information do not emerge naturally, then a bacterium which naturally changes to become resistant to antibiotics is either not a high level of information or it will have lost information in its respective recoding and not gained information (ie: specified complexity–think of it as losing volumes of an encyclopedia series versus gaining volumes of it).

    Response: The problem is that high levels of information do in fact arise naturally. John’s argument doesn’t fly because any genetic mutation or duplication can only be described as new information. Not all of that information is good. Most of it’s useless and is called genetic drift. New genetic information is observed in evolutionary processes every day. So another of ID Magic’s “predictions” fails absolutely.

    Reply
  40. Toby R. says:

    “But if we presume miracles cannot happen, then we are willfully biased to where if there were such a thing we have prohibited its investigation. Are you saying it is scientific to prohibit inquiry?”

    So how does one test and verify a miracle? It seems that all it requires for a theist is word of mouth or for it to be written in their respective book. There are no eyewitnesses, there is no evidence outside of whatever is written in the theists preferred text, and, in the case of modern claims of miracles there are usually only a few unreliable “witnesses” and no scientific study done. People just believe it by default. So they are using their belief to prohibit inquiry simply for the fact that they “believe” what else matters.

    Just to note:

    From Wiki:
    “In science, Occam’s razor is used as a heuristic (rule of thumb) to guide scientists in the development of theoretical models rather than as an arbiter between published models. In the scientific method, Occam’s razor is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic, and certainly not a scientific result.”

    Compare Newton’s theory to Einstein’s.

    “So if you ask me to list a miracle that’s not recorded in Scripture I’m not sure I can, at least, not one that constitutes a tight definition of “miracle” and is still defensible by my own criteria. ”

    So what makes the ones written in the bible any more likely than what people claim today? One, we’re talking about stories that are very likely myths and parables–water into wine, the loaves and fishes. Two, these people hadn’t the knowledge to discern the difference between a natural swarm of locusts and the wrath of some cruel deity.

    I was the one asking about your term “devolve”. I have to say that your antibody resistant bacteria example is quite, quite wrong and I know this from direct experimentation. In a genetics class we induced an E. coli to be resistant to ampicillin. The information for resistance was transmitted from one bacteria to another via plasmids (those are bits of DNA that exist independently of chromosome DNA, they can replicate themselves and so on). So what happens is that the bacteria can connect to each other and transfer plasmids between each other.

    You can imagine what the environment is like when a bacteria encounters an antibiotic. The antibiotic (most of them anyway) effect the bacteria’s ability to synthesize it’s cell wall. So they fail to reproduce themselves, sometimes breaking open and spilling the contents of themselves. The DNA can be free floating, replicating itself, and mutating when chance allows two separate molecules to contact each other and zip together. These free floating plasmids could be picked up by other bacteria and if the mutation is beneficial confer a resistance.

    Your fruitfly comment is confusing. If scientists insert a gene to give fruitflys an extra set of wings, then there isn’t a latent gene somewhere. It’s the genes that the scientists added that cause the mutation. If this occurs naturally, it’ll be due to a combination of environment, predation, mutation, and sexual selection.

    Reply
  41. Nathan barley says:

    The word devolve doesn’t really make sense. Something either evolves or it doesn’t. It’s like saying demove or dechange. Whatever ‘direction’ something moves or changes, it’s still moving or changing. Devolve suggests that evolution has a direction.

    Reply
  42. Tim D. says:

    But if we presume miracles cannot happen, then we are willfully biased to where if there were such a thing we have prohibited its investigation. Are you saying it is scientific to prohibit inquiry?

    I’m saying that there is no scientific precedent of a so-called “miracle” occurring; therefore, until such time that a precedent becomes available and confirmed, it is a reasonable stance to adopt that “miracles cannot occur.” As you stated here:

    We could likewise theorize that the universe doubled in size last night, or we’re all brains in vats, or the universe began five minutes ago complete with illusory memories and perceived age–these are not falsifiable theories, nor are they verifiable, hence they aren’t worth talking about.

    Individual claims of miracles are not “falsifiable” unless you count lack of documented evidence. Therefore they are not usually worth addressing.

    In conclusion, “devolve” is a technical term referring to the loss of information and it functions within the testable predictions of ID theory.

    As someone else said, “de-evolution” by this definition would simply be “evolution.” It’s like entropy — you can’t have “un-entropy.” It’s just a measure of change, and you can’t “un-change.”

    Reply
  43. Charles says:

    With regards to evolution; what dating methods are being used that have been found to be completely accurate? Another thing, Human involvement in all disciplines will always be flawed therefore science itself will always change. Concerning the Christian Faith, from the OT it is important for people to realize that much of the OT teaching is not literal and wasn’t intended to be taken as such.

    There are critical principles that are to be learned from the text more so than reading a literary story. Some is historical and some isn’t; but all is good for teaching. The Christian Faith is getting stronger in the search for absolute truth. We are not all a bunch of superstitious people.

    Individual accounts are verifiable with the right documentation. Why wouldn’t it be plausible to believe medical or police records that, without a doubt, detail miraculous events. It shouldn’t be too difficult to research it.

    In a world this vast with as many people that live in it I would dare not say that there are no verifiable miracles documented anywhere, otherwise, how do you know?

    Reply
  44. TobyR. says:

    “In a world this vast with as many people that live in it I would dare not say that there are no verifiable miracles documented anywhere, otherwise, how do you know?”

    That was my original question, that I wanted someone here to present a miracle not contained in some ancient holy book.

    Reply
  45. Nathan barley says:

    “what dating methods are being used that have been found to be completely accurate?”

    All dating methods have their limits but we know what the limits are. Dendrochronology or tree-ring dating is very accurate for anything less than about 20,000 years, and so on.

    Reply
  46. Tim D. says:

    @Toby- not sure what you’ll make of this, and I have not read the book. Just heard about this on the radio the other day. I’d say if true, this qualifies as a miracle.

    Those sorts of stories are a dime a dozen. What can we do to say that this story stands out in any way from the other ones? Like “30 minutes in Hell,” or one of the myriad other books with almost exactly the same title?

    Reply
  47. John Ferrer says:

    While I have studied some in the sciences my field of expertise is philosophy I’m trying to keep my comments focused on philosophy of science.

    I know about Occam’s razor and that it’s not a rule but a principle. But it’s a very helpful principle here. If we see a functional digital calendar lying in the woods, we don’t assume it happened by natural causes, we infer because it’s manifest purpose that it is the result of some intelligence and not likely wind, rain, sediment, beavers, birds, magneticism, gravity, etc.. ID simply calls an intelligence the more reasonable solution to the problem of that calendars origin. It would be the more reasonable solution in forensics, why is it prohibited in biology?

    BTW, just because a proposed cause is non-natural or supernatural doesn’t make it anti-natural (ie: irrational) or mystical. People tend to think if there is a force not yet quantified by Newton or Einstein or Schroedinger it must be hocus pocus. This is evertime a strawman mischaracterization. Theistic forms of ID understand that intelligence to itself be rational and orderly, and itself/himself the sustainer of the natural laws we come to rely on. This is precisely why so many of the founders of modern science were churchmen. Modern Science was no born in India or China or Japan for those civilizations, for all the good that they offer, do not have a personal and rational creator God at back of all the universe who would reinsure a rational universe, which, btw, is our going presupposition in modern science ever since. It is a tenet of faith to believe the universe operates in discernable, predictable, and causal ways.

    Tim, you just dismissed a proposed miracle account. Now while I’m neither affirming nor denying that account (I’ve said already I’m skeptical of most miracle claims), it seems that your brand of science is prohibiting you from inquiring into an event because your science isn’t robust enough to inquire into any of those potential causes. That seems contrary to science to prohibit inquiry and force dismissal of something without considering any of the evidence it offers.

    Also, I thought of a miracle that fairly indisputable. The Big Bang. If something came from nothing, that’s a miracle. Nothingness is devoid of causal power, yet if it gives rise to everything then we have an event which defies the laws of physics (the laws of physics were born at the same time of the universe together with time and space itself) and requires a cause outside of itself, that is, a supernatural cause. We can discuss and interact with that proposition as reasonably as most any tenet of science or experiment. We just have to treat it within its proper domain of physics, cosmology, and history (its not replicatable for us in a lab). If we are to postulate that nothingness indeed can cause something to exist then you have flipped on its head the entire principle of causality whereby all scientific rationality happens. One is left with a brand of science that, in order to forbid possible religious implications, it has to revert to its own kind of naturalistic mysticism.

    Reply
  48. Charles says:

    I still believe that the process of life is a miracle from conception to death. Whether it is from the bottom up, as some suggest, or not; when we consider all of the constants and all of the systems that work together and on behalf of one another our Life is a universe in itself. I, for one, consider the seed/egg anomaly, if you will, coupled with the marriage concept as being very significant and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

    Everything that lives came from some sort of encapsulated embryo,seed or egg. Every seed/egg was the product of a “marriage” of sperm or fertilizing material to a seed/egg. Concerning seeds, birth into the natural world comes from breaking out of the “shell” of one world and being birthed into another. I understand that this is nature and is able to be measured scientifically, however, these concepts can also be construed as miraculous because of the minute intricacies that number in the billions for each individual.

    Reply
  49. TobyR. says:

    “@Toby- not sure what you’ll make of this, and I have not read the book. Just heard about this on the radio the other day. I’d say if true, this qualifies as a miracle.

    http://www.theboywhocamebackfromheaven.com/

    Yeah, I don’t think much of it. It sounds like many other movies of the week or . . . the beginning of a horror movie. “They had a terrible accident and saw the other side . . . but something followed them back.”

    You know what’s a miracle? Getting published.

    A person can think of any number of ways to explain away a miracle claim. Let’s go back to Ockham’s razor if we must. A family of religious people have an accident and since they’re strong believers then naturally the dreams they have in a coma will be tinged with what they believe. The writer mentions that his job was going slow and that they were worried about medical bills from having a new baby and four kids. Hmm . . . how can a religious person, who happens to write well, get a book published that other people will read, simply because they want to have proof of what they believe in . . . hmmm. I don’t know.

    Reply
  50. Tim D. says:

    Tim, you just dismissed a proposed miracle account. Now while I’m neither affirming nor denying that account (I’ve said already I’m skeptical of most miracle claims), it seems that your brand of science is prohibiting you from inquiring into an event because your science isn’t robust enough to inquire into any of those potential causes. That seems contrary to science to prohibit inquiry and force dismissal of something without considering any of the evidence it offers.

    Nice try. Such claims are — generally speaking — wholly unfalsifiable, wholly unverifiable. I dismissed nothing (although I would not be out of line to do just that); I simply asked how that claim is any different from the myriad other claims — the vast majority of which, you yourself admitted, are very probably false. What is so special about that claim? Why should I even waste the time to entertain it? What scientific promise is there to be demonstrated in such an idea? What information will I be able to gain for future reference, or to test, or to utilize, from entertaining this claim? If you can’t answer that question, then I will dismiss the claim.

    Also, I thought of a miracle that fairly indisputable. The Big Bang. If something came from nothing, that’s a miracle.

    It’s not necessary for something to come from nothing. That’s another false dichotomy promulgated by ID and Creationism proponents — “nothing” vs. “something.”

    Reply
  51. TobyR. says:

    “@Toby- not sure what you’ll make of this, and I have not read the book. Just heard about this on the radio the other day. I’d say if true, this qualifies as a miracle.”

    Yeah, I don’t think much of it. It sounds like many other movies of the week or . . . the beginning of a horror movie. “They had a terrible accident and saw the other side . . . but something followed them back.”

    You know what’s a miracle? Getting published.

    A person can think of any number of ways to explain away a miracle claim. Let’s go back to Ockham’s razor if we must. A family of religious people have an accident and since they’re strong believers then naturally the dreams they have in a coma will be tinged with what they believe. The writer mentions that his job was going slow and that they were worried about medical bills from having a new baby and four kids. Hmm . . . how can a religious person, who happens to write well, get a book published that other people will read, simply because they want to have proof of what they believe in . . . hmmm. I don’t know.

    Reply
  52. Charles says:

    -You know what’s a miracle? Getting published.

    Toby, it is one thing to be skeptical about miracle claims, but it also sounds like your being cynical towards believers. Are you saying that all writers that write about miraculous events have this motivation? Or, are you saying that the religious individual may sincerely believe their claim; but because some traumatic experience or brief incapacitation may have disillusioned them they are discredited? I ask because it would seem unfair to assume this motivation for all literary claims of miraculous events.

    Reply
  53. TobyR. says:

    What makes it a miracle? a kid dreamed of heaven while in a coma. And in walking around heaven he meets the two big players, god and the devil. Of course he had too right? It’s like a person that says that in a former life they were Abraham Lincoln or Napoleon. Never, George, who lived down the road from the cheesemaker’s house.

    I could go to bed tonight and have a dream in which I sit down and talk for days to Khufu, the pharaoh that had the great pyramid of Giza built. I could write a book about revelations he made. Is that a miracle?

    And what was the devil doing in heaven?

    Reply
  54. Charles says:

    -It’s not necessary for something to come from nothing. That’s another false dichotomy promulgated by ID and Creationism proponents — “nothing” vs. “something.”

    Tim, so what are you saying here? Where did “something” come from?

    Do skeptical nonbelievers automatically rule out miracles when there is a measurable explanation for some thing or event? So would it still be a miracle if a scientist discovered an explanation for a regenerated human appendage as apposed to a prayer group witnessing the same event?

    Reply
  55. moose says:

    @Toby-

    The kid also described to his father very specific details about being helicoptered out, and operations that were performed on him that he would not have been able to “dream” about.

    Reply
  56. Tim D. says:

    Tim, so what are you saying here? Where did “something” come from?

    It was already there.

    I don’t see why that’s so hard for you to understand, given that you, as a Creationist, believe that God was “already there.”

    Do skeptical nonbelievers automatically rule out miracles when there is a measurable explanation for some thing or event? So would it still be a miracle if a scientist discovered an explanation for a regenerated human appendage as apposed to a prayer group witnessing the same event?

    A miracle is something that actively defies our understanding and ability to explain. So yes, if there is a way to explain something, then it is by definition not a miracle. A scientific “miracle” would fulfill two requirements, at the very least:

    A) The event has been conclusively proven to have taken place (the same amount of evidence would be expected here that would be expected of any other, non-supernatural event that we would say has been “conclusively proven” to have happened);

    B) There is no consistent way to explain it.

    Notice how miracles only ever happen with regard to things we don’t have natural explanations for? Why do all of these so-called miracles only seem to happen when people are dealing with things we do not understand? You never hear someone claim that a box of pencils materialized by their desk while they were working on some big account, right as they were about to run out of pencils; you never hear about broken machines suddenly starting to work because they were necessary to save someone’s life. You never, ever hear about miracles that deal with what we know, they always deal with what we don’t know. This implies to me that somebody, somewhere, is glossing over genuine explanations for certain situations and deliberately trying to tie them into supernaturality — hence the reliance on “miracle” stories to only relate to things which cannot be challenged scientifically.

    I don’t think we will ever see a “miracle” of a nature that can be even reasonably demonstrated; I think “miracles” will always exist on the fringe of reason, in the minds of people who are ready to believe whatever it is they want to believe and nothing else. Although I do always keep my ear open, just in case someone comes along someday whose motives do not reek of the need to convince oneself (or someone else) that a god exists and that there is an afterlife. But I’m not holding my breath.

    Reply
  57. Tim D. says:

    P.S.

    What I meant to say was, that’s all it would take to prove that “miracles” are possible — to have just one, JUST ONE, example of a “miracle” that dealt with knowledge of the world that we actively claim to have, such as our everyday interactions with physics, things that we take for granted. Instead, “miracles” always rely on aspects of the world about which we claim no knowledge, such as the afterlife or god. This would prove it because it would contradict what we CAN demonstrate about the world. Instead, “miracles” stay in the shadows, relying on that which we cannot demonstrate in order to “exist” within the minds of people who are simply hopeful that they do exist.

    Reply
  58. Charles says:

    Tim, you are probably right in that there probably aren’t very many, if any at all, accounts of inanimate or inorganic objects materializing before one’s eyes at the exact moment it is needed and then recorded (immediately). I believe that would be a bonafide miracle. But, wouldn’t evolution be considered miraculous with this logic? It seems that time would be the only thing that differentiates what you are saying from what you say is the definition of a miracle. I obviously do not subscribe to evolution as the answer to our existence, but I would be naive to think that organic material couldn’t adapt.

    Also, would it be a stretch to think that only living organic material has the capacity for such anomalies, given that God does exist? I say this considering that God only created living organic material, thus no chance of inorganic or inanimate “dead” objects facilitating a miracle.

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  59. Charles says:

    One other thing, If it was already there, then what is to be said about time? Time shouldn’t exist if everything was already there. There wouldn’t be a need for time or age, but the universe is expanding. Isn’t time a variable when measuring distance and speed? So it is plausible to speculate that miracles may exist and that there is, quite possibly, something outside of this universe.

    Reply
  60. Toby R. says:

    “@Toby-

    The kid also described to his father very specific details about being helicoptered out, and operations that were performed on him that he would not have been able to “dream” about.”

    A kid was in a state of unconsciousness, we don’t know to what extent and he remembers things about it. Have you honestly never heard of someone being in surgery and later reporting that they had awareness even though they appeared unconscious? The same for people in comas. Have you ever seen someone in a coma? Sometimes their eyes aren’t fully closed, you see it with sleeping people as well, that a sliver of eye is exposed. Do you think it’s more likely that these people are having visions and are “out of body” or that their brains are picking up on auditory and scant visual stimuli and are storing it away. I mean, it’s what our brains are for.

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  61. Toby R. says:

    “It was already there.

    I don’t see why that’s so hard for you to understand, given that you, as a Creationist, believe that God was “already there.””

    I’m with you on this. 1st law of thermodynamics. Energy is neither created nor destroyed, but can change from one form to another. An eternal god vs eternal energy. At least we know that energy exists. I am typing this while looking a gazillion little firing electrons on my monitor.

    “So would it still be a miracle if a scientist discovered an explanation for a regenerated human appendage as apposed to a prayer group witnessing the same event?”

    I think it wouldn’t matter if who witnessed it. If you have video or photographic record of the person beforehand (without a leg for example) then they go on TV and have a leg that would be only somewhat convincing (or not really at all because of hollywood magic). What would truly be convincing is finding a person whose leg has been severed, and the person and the leg is taken to a hospital where the next day the person wakes up with two legs, and the original leg is down in the morgue where it can be genetically tested as having come from that person. So, yes, scientists would be better witnesses to miracles.

    “There wouldn’t be a need for time or age, but the universe is expanding. Isn’t time a variable when measuring distance and speed? So it is plausible to speculate that miracles may exist and that there is, quite possibly, something outside of this universe.”

    Hypothetical: The Big Rip is the idea that the ever increasing expansion of the universe will accelerate so rapidly that all matter will be torn apart. If all that exists then is some form of massless energy, meaning no matter, then it follows that space and time have ceased to exist as there would be no reference points with which to measure them. Fluctuations in this energy could trigger the creation of more mass starting another universe.

    Reply
  62. Tim D. says:

    But, wouldn’t evolution be considered miraculous with this logic?

    Is the theory of evolution, which describes the adaptation and common ancestry of all life on earth, a “miracle” in the same sense as a solid object blatantly materializing itself out of thin air? No, I can’t say it would be.

    For one, what about the theory of evolution requires anything to spontaneously appear out of thin air? I mean, it’s not “evolution” like on Pokemon, where you suddenly transform into something else after you get enough experience points. All of the components which make evolution possible on a massive scale — genetic drift, dominant/recessive alleles, etc. — can be verified and even directly observed on their own. Theory of evolution is the natural logical result of the realization that all of these things DO happen, and it is a description of what would happen if all of these factors occurred (as they demonstrably, observably DO over a short period of time) over a long period of time.

    I obviously do not subscribe to evolution as the answer to our existence, but I would be naive to think that organic material couldn’t adapt.

    Well that’s good, because evolution is not an “answer to our existence.” It’s an explanation of the common ancestry and adaptation of all life on earth.

    Also, would it be a stretch to think that only living organic material has the capacity for such anomalies, given that God does exist?

    So God can’t interact with nonliving objects? Then how did he create them?

    I say this considering that God only created living organic material, thus no chance of inorganic or inanimate “dead” objects facilitating a miracle.

    Oh,, so God didn’t create inorganic matter, he only created us? Well, then who created the rest of the universe?

    One other thing, If it was already there, then what is to be said about time? Time shouldn’t exist if everything was already there.

    What are you even talking about? Time is simply a measure of change — our measure of “seconds” is simply based on the rate of radioactive decay of Caesium. If something’s happening, then there is time; if nothing is happening (no change or entropy), then time is meaningless.

    Besides, I didn’t say everything was already there, I said energy (and the physical principles which guide it, lest the purpose be defeated entirely) were already there. This is a scientific fact that cannot be denied — as Mr. Toby cited, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. If we acknowledge this, then we must acknowledge that energy, in some way, has always existed, in order to be consistent.

    Isn’t time a variable when measuring distance and speed? So it is plausible to speculate that miracles may exist and that there is, quite possibly, something outside of this universe.

    Big Bang, Big Crunch, Big Rip….read some physics books, my friend. The fact that you haven’t even researched such elementary principles of physics (and that you’re still ready to jump to the conclusion of “miracles!!11!” as though you had exhausted all other possible alternatives) makes it clear to my why you can’t accept evolutionary theory….you don’t even seem to understand even more basic principles than that.

    Reply
  63. John Ferrer says:

    So if Toby, Tim, and Nathan are right then the Big Bang could never be scientifically studied in its fullness. We’d have to stop short of any singularity, arriving perhaps as close as a “million billionth” from that point, after all, a “singularity” of infinite density and smallness would be indistinguishable from literal “nothing.” Such a singularity could indicate a beginning to nature that had a cause from outside the universe, and that would be a miracle and science can’t allow that. Science could carry the logic back till you get to a million-billionth of a second after the big bang to study the initial expansion, but Science is not allowed to go any further as that might indicate a beginning. Science instead postulates a steady state theory of some sort at back of the big bang, but it can’t investigate such things it can only assume them since investigating such things could potentially turn up a miracle–is that what you guys are saying?

    toby and tim, are you saying that the universe was “always there”? If so, I think you mean that some material substratum was “always there” because the universe as we known it was not around 15 billion years ago. And if you think it’s a big defense to say, “Why can’t we say the some material realm was always there, you theists say God was ‘always there?'”–that’s called, in logic, the Tu Quoque fallacy. It is a brand of ad hominem which says, “Who are you to judge me, you’re guilty of the same thing!.” Finding the same (apparent) fault in your opponent’s theory does not solve that problem in your own theory.

    Next, we have seen a lot about the material realm and about the universe and, frankly, it does not seem to be a sufficient cause for itself. Given the entropy of the universe, even if there has always been mass or inert energy (for the sake of argument), that says nothing about where the usable energy came from to “breath fire” into the equations of physics (as Hawkings puts it). What energized the mass to get things moving, literally? Given an infinite past the net usable energy in the universe should have already exhausted itself.

    also, no less than Einstein himself reluctantly repudiated the steady state theory. Steady state is very passe these days. I assume you guys would prefer some sort of string theory or something to get around the more simplistic steady state models of old. I’m not sure these do anything more than show a dogmatic reluctance of Big Bang cosmologists to actually follow the logic back to a singularity.

    Reply
  64. Nathan Barley says:

    “Science is not allowed to go any further as that might indicate a beginning.”

    I thought it more that science is just not ABLE to. Before the singularity is beyond the scope of science. But that doesn’t mean that non-scientific answers have any more value than guesses.

    “Finding the same (apparent) fault in your opponent’s theory does not solve that problem in your own theory.”

    Material always being there seems less of a problem than material coming out of no material – whether by God or some other process. But I’m not a scientist, so am open to correction.

    Reply
  65. TobyR. says:

    “We’d have to stop short of any singularity, arriving perhaps as close as a “million billionth” from that point, after all, a “singularity” of infinite density and smallness would be indistinguishable from literal “nothing.””

    To give you more of your Tu Quoque fallacy . . . spaceless, timeless, and immaterial is precisely the definition of nothing.

    “Such a singularity could indicate a beginning to nature that had a cause from outside the universe, and that would be a miracle and science can’t allow that.”

    I don’t think this is accurate. I wouldn’t classify that as a miracle. The only thing you’re doing is assuming there was a purposeful intelligence that controls everything about the universe . . . except your will. You can’t know anything of the sort. You can only claim – CAUSE. I see your argument as being little different from the multiverse idea. There’s a cause to of the universe and you believe that cause was intelligent, but you can’t know it’s purpose or intention. For all you know it’s another universe in which scientists have constructed their own Hadron Collider and we’re the unintended consequence of one of it’s collisions.

    “Science is not allowed to go any further as that might indicate a beginning. Science instead postulates a steady state theory of some sort at back of the big bang, but it can’t investigate such things it can only assume them since investigating such things could potentially turn up a miracle–is that what you guys are saying?”

    No.

    “are you saying that the universe was “always there”? If so, I think you mean that some material substratum was “always there” because the universe as we known it was not around 15 billion years ago. ”

    No. I’m saying that energy is eternal. there is a difference. Our universe only exists because of two things–matter and time. Matter is formed from a conversion of energy into mass. Hypothetically, if there is no matter–no mass– then there is no space or time. for there to be space or time you need matter in order to have coordinates.

    Reply
  66. John Ferrer says:

    Toby, something need not occupy space and/or time to exist. Occupying space and time are sufficient but not necessary causes for existence. All abstract objects are timeless and spaceless, yet we wouldn’t necessarily say that “love” or “thirteen” or “justice” are false or nonexistent. Not to mention, properties and subjective experience do not occupy space they are just coordinate with matter, so are you prepared to say that “Red” and “I” are also illusory?

    Nathan, you may be okay with restricting science to investigating only things that are naturally caused, but that still seems like a presumptuous limitation on science given, my illustration, that the ethos of science is to respect no dogma and honor no borders. In my article I point out how many believers have been excellent scientists and saw no strict prohibition on undiscovered, non-natural and supernatural causes. Why couldn’t we investigate naturally occurring but non-naturally caused phenomenon insofar as natural causes and empirical evidence surround or result from that event? I do not see why science cannot make inferences about what the kind of cause could generate a naturally occuring event if, by appearances, it does not have a known natural cause sufficiently demonstrated by scientific experimentation or prediction to qualify as “scientific.”

    Reply
  67. Nathan barley says:

    John, as I understand it, it is of simple necessity – the supernatural is by definition not measurable. There’s a reason science used to be called ‘natural philosophy’.

    But I’m not dogmatic about this issue. I’ll post a link on it separately next.

    Reply
  68. TobyR. says:

    “Occupying space and time are sufficient but not necessary causes for existence.”

    I’m probably wrong, but I think you’re moving the goal posts here, muddying the water with ideas of reality one has when smoking bad pot. Or even good pot.

    “All abstract objects are timeless and spaceless, yet we wouldn’t necessarily say that “love” or “thirteen” or “justice” are false or nonexistent.”

    These things aren’t “objects” either abstractly or practically. These things have no existence outside of human minds or experience. It’s hubris to think that things we have created in our minds rise above and beyond the universe. What is love? A series of chemical reactions in our brain, the feel we get from them we label with the term love. What’s justice? Similar to love in that it’s a series of chemical reactions in response to our desire to survive, justice being a way of dealing with things that might threaten that. what is thirteen? A series of chemical reactions that form a word and concept of quantity.

    “properties and subjective experience do not occupy space they are just coordinate with matter, so are you prepared to say that “Red” and “I” are also illusory?”

    I think the question is moot. Properties and experience do occupy space. They are the products of chemicals in our brains. Red and I are not illusory, they are a label applied to a spectrum of light and a word to address one’s physical self.

    Reply
  69. Luke says:

    Is astrology science?

    It draws on scientific theories (astronomy and astrology were really inseparable for quite a long time) and it presents falsifiable descriptions and predictions.

    Wikipedia says it’s a pseudoscience, but by the criteria proposed here, is it pseudoscience or science?

    Thanks in advance,

    Luke

    Reply
  70. John Ferrer says:

    Nathan I pointed out how the “supernatural” could be measured, or, to be more specific, responsibly inferred from known natural events which have a supernatural cause. I repeat my example of the Big Bang. If there were a supernatural cause which energized the inert energy/matter a millisecond before where current Big Bang cosmology is willing to go, then we can infer things about the cause by way of its effects. I agree with you that science does have some limitations in explicating the personality or identity of said “God.” But it doesn’t seem obvious to me at all that I am prohibited from inferring THAT there is a non-natural cause of a naturally occuring event, if all known natural causes are inadequate and the closest seeming cause is human intelligence and there is manifest evidence of an intelligence exceeding anything humanly possible. It seems restrictive to limit science’s ambition to explaining AWAY the appearance of intelligence, when it could go a long way if it were willing to focus some of its sights on explaining and applying the notion of intelligence. This even happens with human intelligences, since “agency” doesn’t easily reduce to mechanical causes and naturalists generally don’t like to admit things that can’t be reduced to the four newtonian forces. In my experience, atheists prefer to explain away human agency, in part, because it does not reduce to physics and so is considered hocus pocus. Am I wrong?

    Toby, you’ve just explicated reductive materialism which, while popular in the sciences, is considered by many many philosophers to be too simplistic. Permit me to illustrate. We know from neurology that there is no location in the brain where all the senses of the body converge into a singular 1st person subjective experience. So, I ask you again, where does “I” occur? Moreover, if you think of a pink elephant that is categorically inaccessible to 3rd person science it cannot be unveiled through any number of pokes and proddings of you brain. That thought of a pink elephant cannot exist materially outside your brain, it would have to be a different thought of the pink elephant by someone else, or a literal picture of a pink elephant, or a living pink elephant, but your thought of a pink elephant is real, private, and doesn’t occupy space.

    BTW, how much space does the meaning of “typerwriter” occupy? How would you measure such a thing? What increments would you use? Bits? Ohms? Liters? Grams? Watts? Volts? Does the word become meaningless if it happens that no one is thinking about it to sustain it’s meaningfulness over time? The meaning of any word is itself information and information does not submit to time-space quantification any more than any other abstract object or property like love, justice, two, red, etc. Even if these are “merely” ideas that were thought into existence by humans, it is still scientifically impossible to quantify a thought or to reduce it to the measures of time and space. These things are real and exist, but are immaterial. I suppose you can become a radical fictionalist and say these things have no existance whatsoever, but don’t tell your girlfriend that you just called “love” a fiction.

    Reductive materialism is wrought with difficulties and is a philosophically naive position which many atheists and naturalists are not even willing to admit (for example David Armstrong, and, I believe Russell and the early Flew). It’s more common among scientists who don’t realize how bad their philosophizing is. I suppose I should have expected as much given the common antipathy of many modern scientists towards metaphysics.

    Reply
  71. Nathan barley says:

    “If there were a supernatural cause which energized the inert energy/matter a millisecond before where current Big Bang cosmology is willing to go, then we can infer things about the cause by way of its effects. ”

    How on earth would one detect this cause?

    Reply
  72. Nathan barley says:

    ” We know from neurology that there is no location in the brain where all the senses of the body converge into a singular 1st person subjective experience”

    I think you’re over reaching here. Why would one expect one area to be a location of convergence? There’s no known ‘genes for tallness’ but we’re still pretty sure that tallness is genetically inherited. Are neurologists convinced that the brain isn’t the originator of the “I”?

    Reply
  73. Nathan barley says:

    “Does the word become meaningless if it happens that no one is thinking about it to sustain it’s meaningfulness over time? ”

    It’s meaningless to anyone who doesn’t understand it. If someone does understand it then it has meaning to them. If it has meaning to no-one, then by definition it is meaningless. Surely to argue otherwise is to break the law of non contradiction. Your ‘love is fiction’ comment is a strawmen of what Toby was saying.

    Reply
  74. John Ferrer says:

    Nathan, one would detect a supernatural cause by analogy with natural causes, just like we would with any other yet-unknown cause. Science analogizes over all its inferences since no single experiment replicates any other event exactly. We cannot replicate any one instance of gravity ever again, rather we universalize it as a law assuming that other places in the universe are also subject to gravity because they are LIKE (analogy) the circumstances we replicated in our experiments where gravity was demonstrated. Temporal and spacial distance make every event of scientific interest a particular, and we can make universal laws (scientific or otherwise) only by analogizing them into universals.

    (Now I believe in universals, I’m just explaining how science would work for naturalists who deny universals–given that universals are all abstract objects which you guys seem to consider illusory since they don’t fit within time or space).

    Nathan, you don’t seem to understand my point about the “meaning.” I’m suggesting that even if a person doesn’t understand a word, or someone isn’t thinking about it’s meaning, or even if the language were lost forever, we could still identify THAT it meant something and that meaning is not limited by time and space. We have evidence today of lost languages, and we do not have to deduce that they are meaningless, but only that we have not yet discovered the meaning carried in those words. Using Information Theory (ID) we can recognize languages even if they are long dead languages which we cannot yet interpret. Meaning, information, and ideas all are specific problems for reductive materialists since none of these reduce to brute matter nor material causes and none of them are quantifiable within time/space terms.

    Also you object to my point about convergence, but I ask you, where does the unified experience of “self” occur if there is no point in the brain we can point to? It is not enough to say that “it occurs in the brain,” because then I just push further saying, “Where in the brain?” And if you do not know then it seems to be a faith statement on your part that it occurs “in” the brain at all. The brain can store enough content to span the largest library, so to say that “self” happens in that organic library is not helpful at all. it is not evident at all that self can occur without a point of convergence especially since our experience is itself converged data (save for, perhaps, multiple personality disorder).

    Plus, where do we get off saying that a thought is “nothing but” a neuronal impulse? That is like saying language is nothing but ink on paper, or lights on a screen. There is a whole different dimension occurring there which reductive materialism is wholly inept at addressing.

    Reply
  75. Ed says:

    There are so many incorrect statements in John’s posts it would take forever to point them all out. I’ll just point out some of the more obvious ones.

    John said: toby and tim, are you saying that the universe was “always there”? If so, I think you mean that some material substratum was “always there” because the universe as we known it was not around 15 billion years ago. And if you think it’s a big defense to say, “Why can’t we say the some material realm was always there, you theists say God was ‘always there?’”–that’s called, in logic, the Tu Quoque fallacy. It is a brand of ad hominem which says, “Who are you to judge me, you’re guilty of the same thing!.” Finding the same (apparent) fault in your opponent’s theory does not solve that problem in your own theory.

    Response: Scientists don’t make observations in defense of claims from religious people. We have no evidence that mass energy appeared from nothing. We have well confirmed empirical observations that mass-energy cannot appear ex nihilo. So scientists are led to the conclusion that our universe of mass-energy always existed in one form or another.

    John said: Next, we have seen a lot about the material realm and about the universe and, frankly, it does not seem to be a sufficient cause for itself. Given the entropy of the universe, even if there has always been mass or inert energy (for the sake of argument), that says nothing about where the usable energy came from to “breath fire” into the equations of physics (as Hawkings puts it). What energized the mass to get things moving, literally? Given an infinite past the net usable energy in the universe should have already exhausted itself

    Response: Observations indicate that the positive energy of matter is exactly balanced by negative gravitational potential energy. Therefore the total energy of the universe is zero.

    John said: Nathan I pointed out how the “supernatural” could be measured, or, to be more specific, responsibly inferred from known natural events which have a supernatural cause.

    Response: Supernatural claims HAVE been measured and refuted scientifically. For example the creation and flood stories in the Bible have been proved to be myths. Of course the style these stories are written in is a dead giveaway to anyone with a basic understand of literature.

    John said: I repeat my example of the Big Bang. If there were a supernatural cause which energized the inert energy/matter a millisecond before where current Big Bang cosmology is willing to go, then we can infer things about the cause by way of its effects. I agree with you that science does have some limitations in explicating the personality or identity of said “God.”

    Response:There is no evidence for anything supernatural which is why we don’t investigate it other than on TV shows like Ghost Hunters.

    Reply
  76. Tim D. says:

    John, why must you always become so indignant anytime we discuss thermodynamics?

    Such a singularity could indicate a beginning to nature that had a cause from outside the universe, and that would be a miracle and science can’t allow that.

    Nobody has denied that up to this point, not even here. What I said earlier was that an outside “cause” has not been demonstrated to be possible by currently known means, and this is why ID and Creationism do not qualify as science — they propose no testable theories and produce no verifiable results. It’s philosophy, not science.

    Science could carry the logic back till you get to a million-billionth of a second after the big bang to study the initial expansion, but Science is not allowed to go any further as that might indicate a beginning.

    A beginning to what? You’ll need to be more specific. Energy itself has always existed in some form, though (unless you’d like to introduce some proof that it has not; I’m sure the scientific community would be enthralled by the introduction of any significant evidence which testifies to that!). A beginning to the universe? Well that’s a much wider concept with many components. But even if there was no universe, there was energy, and that energy had to exist somewhere physically. That is what we must consider.

    Science instead postulates a steady state theory of some sort at back of the big bang, but it can’t investigate such things it can only assume them since investigating such things could potentially turn up a miracle–is that what you guys are saying?

    As I said before, I think the scientific community would openly welcome the discovery of an event which you would blindly call a “miracle,” if for no other reason than that it would give them something new to dissect and explore. It would fuel journalism and experimentation for decades. It would stimulate the scientific economy. There is no reason for a scientist to be so maliciously opposed to any theory as you suggest they should be to what you call a “miracle.” The difference is, whereas you will say, “it’s a miracle, guess we’ll never know!”, a scientist will generally say, “Hmm, I wonder how that is possible? Could it be because of this…but then in order for that to be true….” And so on and so forth.

    toby and tim, are you saying that the universe was “always there”?

    Nope. For the third time (not counting previous mentions in this very post), I am saying that energy has always existed. This is a basic scientific fact. If you cannot accept it then you are free to introduce some kind of experiment which proves that it is possible to create or destroy energy. I’m sure it would explode within the scientific community if such a discovery were ever made.

    The rest of what you said here is irrelevant as it builds off of a weak strawman misinterpretation of what was said.

    Toby, something need not occupy space and/or time to exist. Occupying space and time are sufficient but not necessary causes for existence. All abstract objects are timeless and spaceless, yet we wouldn’t necessarily say that “love” or “thirteen” or “justice” are false or nonexistent. Not to mention, properties and subjective experience do not occupy space they are just coordinate with matter, so are you prepared to say that “Red” and “I” are also illusory?

    You are wrong again. Prove to me that “love” exists somewhere outside of a human mind and you will have a case. All you need to do is show me *just one* instance of “love” existing independently of a mind — be that yours, mine, or God’s.

    “Red” is not a thing which exists, it is a concept which describes a state of pigmentation within matter. The “redness” of that matter is apparent, but the abstract concept of “red” does not exist. That concept is simply the language into which our mind has converted the observation of “redness” in nature, so that we can comprehend and process it.

    Nathan, you may be okay with restricting science to investigating only things that are naturally caused, but that still seems like a presumptuous limitation on science given, my illustration, that the ethos of science is to respect no dogma and honor no borders.

    Problem is, you’re creating a circular fallacy by insisting that science should study things which are by definition unscientific — and you are only doing this because of a clear bias towards the supernatural.

    Let me phrase it this way — even IF science were somehow extended to cover the supernatural, then it would still follow that all things would have to have either a “natural” or “supernatural” explanation. Anything outside of that definition would be “unscientific,” and so we could still call science “narrow” for being unable to explore things which, by definition, it cannot explore. The only way to make science “fair” by your definition is to completely abandon any established or consistent concepts and simply operate in the moment that anything, no matter how blatantly or demonstrably impossible, simply *must* be possible.

    Any time you draw on previous knowledge, you are in some way being scientific. The only way to be so very “unbiased” as to consider the supernatural as a possibility would be to assume that any knowledge we can draw on, no matter how trustworthy or untrustworthy, cannot ever be trusted — we would have to extend the realm of possibility into “anything, even that which is by definition impossible.” This is what you are doing when you say that something can happen, even if it violates the laws which we have discovered and demonstrated to be consistent.

    Therefore, the logical extreme of your definition of “science” is to live in a state of complete and total nonsense all of the time.But it doesn’t seem obvious to me at all that I am prohibited from inferring THAT there is a non-natural cause of a naturally occuring event, if all known natural causes are inadequate and the closest seeming cause is human intelligence and there is manifest evidence of an intelligence exceeding anything humanly possible.

    You are not “prohibited” from offering anything; you are, however, going to be expected to provide some kind of evidence that such a supernatural explanation is even possible in the first place, long before you propose the hypothesis that it is an adequate explanation for the universe’s origin.

    And saying that the universe must have been created, therefore this is evidence of the supernatural, therefore the universe could have been created, is circular reasoning. There must exist some kind of evidence outside of this cycle of reasoning to suggest that it is possible.

    We know from neurology that there is no location in the brain where all the senses of the body converge into a singular 1st person subjective experience. So, I ask you again, where does “I” occur?

    “I” does not occur. One’s identity is the summative experience of all of one’s senses, throughout one’s body, at a given time. They must not all converge in one place; did you ever notice that your entire body is connected to itself throughout? It’s connected by nerves; the human body is a network of systems communicating with each other. Your brain is, however, where you experience cognition and the processing of data — no other part of your body can process these signals like your brain can — and so many people consider the brain to be the most important part of the identity, if not the majority of it.

    Moreover, if you think of a pink elephant that is categorically inaccessible to 3rd person science it cannot be unveiled through any number of pokes and proddings of you brain.

    That’s because the pink elephant does not actually exist in your brain; it is a signal that your brain perceives. It’s the same concept as data on a computer disk — a picture of the same elephant on a computer disk cannot be found, no matter how you poke and prod at it, and yet if you access it with the right system, that has the ability to translate the raw data into an image and then send that image to another system with the ability to display it in a way that you can understand, you will still be able to see it. This is why, awhile back, I equated an adult believing in God with a child believing that there are actually people inside of a TV.

    That thought of a pink elephant cannot exist materially outside your brain, it would have to be a different thought of the pink elephant by someone else, or a literal picture of a pink elephant, or a living pink elephant, but your thought of a pink elephant is real, private, and doesn’t occupy space.

    It does exist, just not as a pink elephant. It exists as data which cannot be observed by the naked eye, because the eye is not capable of processing that kind of data directly. And yes, data does take up space; otherwise your hard drive could store an infinite amount of data, as opposed to a gigabyte or terrabyte limit.

    Your thoughts are not synonymous with the things they represent; they are thoughts. If I think of a cookie, that cookie is not real; it’s a thought of a cookie. In the same way that if I draw a cookie, that is not a cookie that exists, it’s a drawing of a cookie.

    BTW, how much space does the meaning of “typerwriter” occupy? How would you measure such a thing?

    Define what you mean by “the meaning of typewriter” first. Otherwise this statement is nonsense; it’s like asking a computer to process what “blue” means without first converting it to machine code and then to a compatible programming language.

    What increments would you use? Bits? Ohms? Liters? Grams? Watts? Volts?

    What unit would you use to measure God? Inches?

    See, this is fallacious nonsense. Asking someone to measure something with incompatible units is not an argument, it’s just asinine.

    Reductive materialism is wrought with difficulties and is a philosophically naive position which many atheists and naturalists are not even willing to admit (for example David Armstrong, and, I believe Russell and the early Flew)

    Materialism makes perfect consistent sense, actually. It’s you Christianfolk who do all the reductionism, refusing to accept any explanation offered to you and instead content with insisting that “ultimately nothing means anything so I can do whatever I want,” refusing to accept the possibility of any sort of subjective meaning other than “God thinks I’m special.” That is your problem, not mine, and I have no need to explain it away for you.

    How on earth would one detect this cause?

    I think he’s talking about the “God Fingerprint” proposed by Dawkins, or something similar. Though I could be wrong.

    Plus, where do we get off saying that a thought is “nothing but” a neuronal impulse? That is like saying language is nothing but ink on paper, or lights on a screen. There is a whole different dimension occurring there which reductive materialism is wholly inept at addressing.

    This is the product of theistic reductionalism — materialism would not say it’s “nothing but” an impulse, or “nothing but” a thought. That is the theist talking. Materialism says nothing of the inherent “greatness” or “meaninglessness” of anything. It is simply an “is” statement. Anything further than that is speculation and insistence on the part of theistic aggressors.

    The brain can store enough content to span the largest library, so to say that “self” happens in that organic library is not helpful at all.

    I think it’s quite helpful. For one, only the theistic reductionalist believes that a materialist must somehow account for one single, dense point in space at which “I” exist. “I” am a compound of all of the systems that comprise me; if you cut off my arm, will I cease to be me? Or will just that part of me cease? If you give me a lobotomy, does my identity no longer exist? Am “I” dead? Or have I changed?

    This is another problem of theistic reductionalism; it assumes to have all of the philosophical answers to things like psychology and biology, and from that assumed high ground it launches attacks on legitimate attempts to analyze those fields.

    Reply
  77. TobyR. says:

    “is considered by many many philosophers to be too simplistic.”

    then I’d say philosophers are out of touch and too in love with their own thoughts. And that they are largely ignorant of the physical world because they don’t offer anything in the way of proof via experimentation. There is a newish trend of x-phils or whatever they call themselves (experimental philosophers), but to me what they are experimenting is psychology and neuroscience.

    “Does the word become meaningless if it happens that no one is thinking about it to sustain it’s meaningfulness over time?”

    Yes.

    “The meaning of any word is itself information and information does not submit to time-space quantification any more than any other abstract object or property like love, justice, two, red, etc.”

    These things are inextricably linked to the minds and hence time and space as minds only occur within brains.

    “Even if these are “merely” ideas that were thought into existence by humans, it is still scientifically impossible to quantify a thought or to reduce it to the measures of time and space. These things are real and exist, but are immaterial.”

    See, this is our sticking point. These things are only real and exist because they are functions of brains. they wouldn’t exist if intelligent minds failed to evolve. Where does a grand, immaterial notion of love exist on the cold lifeless surface of the moon?

    “I suppose you can become a radical fictionalist and say these things have no existance whatsoever, but don’t tell your girlfriend that you just called “love” a fiction.”

    Whoever said it was right. This is a strawman. i’m saying love exist, but it only exists in brains.

    “Reductive materialism is wrought with difficulties and is a philosophically naive position which many atheists and naturalists are not even willing to admit (for example David Armstrong, and, I believe Russell and the early Flew). It’s more common among scientists who don’t realize how bad their philosophizing is. I suppose I should have expected as much given the common antipathy of many modern scientists towards metaphysics.”

    I think most philosophy is naive, myself. I think it’s a bunch of armchair mind-bending word mazes revered for their unprovable essence and convolution.

    Reply
  78. Charles says:

    -Observations indicate that the positive energy of matter is exactly balanced by negative gravitational potential energy. Therefore the total energy of the universe is zero.

    Ed, so where did energy come from and where is it going?

    Personally, I don’t think that Atheists will ever experience anything miraculous. For something to happen it would need to be observed by multiple parties documented and studied, analyzed and dissected beyond recognition and then re-labeled as a natural occurrence. My point is, Faith is not scientific, but the fact that it is an Idea containing information means that it is not bound by time/space. An idea containing information does, however, need to be present for someone to change potential energy into kinetic, right? I am no physicist, scientist or mathematician by any stretch and don’t claim to be. What I do know about is spiritual discernment and sensitivity.

    Feel free to blast what I just said, but analytically, no Atheist will ever understand. There are real concepts, ideas and principles that directly address humanity, whether fiction or nonfiction. An atheistic view of freedom will always differ from a theistic understanding of freedom. The same can be said about the concept of Love, which has been attributed to a “feeling” under this topic. The concept of Love from a Biblical perspective has multiple meanings; none of which are attributed to a feeling. So that loving feeling would be affection and not Love itself.

    People can exhaust all the scientific evidence that exists and still never understand concepts of anything outside of what is naturally sensed. Theists are not against science or logic, but it seems as though Atheists hate the idea of something beyond physical understanding. If my history is correct, the first scientists were theists until Darwin in the 19th century. So scientific thought arose from theistic minds. The very idea of critical thought can be attributed to theism. Anything a human being begins to study is subjugated to the bias of his or her intent. Seek and ye shall find.

    I apologize for the banter, I really just want to get at the significance of theology in relation to science. If anyone tells me that there is no common ground between the two I’ll think it to be unacceptable and ask that we dig deeper.

    Reply
  79. Tim D. says:

    Ed, so where did energy come from and where is it going?

    *bangs head on wall*

    Energy JUST IS. It has always been. It goes wherever physics tell it to go. It didn’t “come from” anywhere because it has always existed.

    In fact, I just realized….any question that we can ask about god, we can also ask about energy. Interesting 🙂

    Personally, I don’t think that Atheists will ever experience anything miraculous. For something to happen it would need to be observed by multiple parties documented and studied, analyzed and dissected beyond recognition and then re-labeled as a natural occurrence.

    Oh please, now you’re just touting out that tired sour grapes argument used by preachers who’ve run out of evangelical maneuvers.

    Feel free to blast what I just said, but analytically, no Atheist will ever understand. There are real concepts, ideas and principles that directly address humanity, whether fiction or nonfiction. An atheistic view of freedom will always differ from a theistic understanding of freedom. The same can be said about the concept of Love, which has been attributed to a “feeling” under this topic. The concept of Love from a Biblical perspective has multiple meanings; none of which are attributed to a feeling. So that loving feeling would be affection and not Love itself.

    You’re mostly right in that an atheist will never “understand” what is nonsensical. I couldn’t if I tried. And yes, atheist “freedom” is different from Christian “freedom.” Same with love. Except I see love as more of a method of behavior than a specific feeling.

    If my history is correct, the first scientists were theists until Darwin in the 19th century.

    You’re wrong of course, but even so….pretty much everybody was a theist before a certain point in time, or at least they said so. Being threatened with death by execution or torture for the “crime” of heresy can do wonders for one’s public spiritual affirmation….

    Theists are not against science or logic, but it seems as though Atheists hate the idea of something beyond physical understanding.

    Yes, you are against science and logic. You utilize them (or say you do), until one of them contradicts what you want to believe. Then and only then do you discard them and insist that they’re “not enough.”

    “Chatter is initially bright and light-hearted
    But it’s not long before Storm gets started:
    “You can’t know anything,
    Knowledge is merely opinion”

    She opines, over her Cabernet Sauvignon
    Vis a vis
    Some unhippily
    Empirical comment by me

    “Not a good start” I think
    We’re only on pre-dinner drinks
    And across the room, my wife
    Widens her eyes
    Silently begs me, “Be nice”
    A matrimonial warning
    Not worth ignoring
    So I resist the urge to ask Storm
    Whether knowledge is so loose-weave
    Of a morning
    When deciding whether to leave
    Her apartment by the front door
    Or a window on the second floor.

    “You’re so sure of your position
    But you’re just closed-minded
    I think you’ll find
    Your faith in Science and Tests
    Is just as blind
    As the faith of any fundamentalist!”

    “Hm, that’s a good point, let me think for a bit
    Oh wait, my mistake, it’s absolute bull****
    Science adjusts it’s beliefs based on what’s observed
    Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved.”

    –Tim Minchin, Storm

    Reply
  80. Ed says:

    “I think most philosophy is naive, myself. I think it’s a bunch of armchair mind-bending word mazes revered for their unprovable essence and convolution.”

    Yes and theology is the study of nothing. It isn’t even a subject.

    Reply
  81. Nathan barley says:

    ” The concept of Love from a Biblical perspective has multiple meanings; none of which are attributed to a feeling.”

    Basically saying that love is some kind of magic doesn’t make it any ‘less fiction’ than saying it’s a feeling. And saying it’s a feeling doesn’t make it a fiction either.

    Your brain argument I’ve already answered. See my remark about genes for tallness. I can’t explain exactly how my mobile phone works, in fact no single person on earth understands every component. That doesn’t mean it’s reasonable to assume the supernatural. And if we subscribed to some homunculus idea about the brain then we’d never have learned anything about the brain. Everything we DO know about the brain points to it being the centre of our “I”. Cases like Phineas Gage make no sense outside of that concept

    Reply
  82. Nathan barley says:

    Sorry, first para there was for Charles, the second for John. John, if you’ve approved the link I posted, how’s about you reposting it so everyone can read it. I think it adds to the discussion.

    Reply
  83. Nathan barley says:

    ” I’m suggesting that even if a person doesn’t understand a word, or someone isn’t thinking about it’s meaning, or even if the language were lost forever, we could still identify THAT it meant something and that meaning is not limited by time and space”

    Sorry, but is this language lost or not? If it’s completely lost then there’s nothing there for us to infer. If you mean we have remnants from which to infer, then in that way you can say some meaning remains. In short, if it has meaning then is not meaningless. If there is nothing to infer, no meaning, then by definition it is meaningless! this is simple tautology.

    Reply
  84. Toby R. says:

    “The very idea of critical thought can be attributed to theism. ”

    I very much doubt that. One wound think it first came from skepticism and the desire to prove a stupid idea wrong.

    Reply
  85. Toby R. says:

    “Yes and theology is the study of nothing. It isn’t even a subject.”

    Well, it is a subject in many schools . . . but it’s more of a waste of time. Suppose that theology quit researching (if research is actually done in it in the first place) and they stuck with what they have to this point. They’d quickly become outdated because they cease to evolve along with the morality and will and desire of society.

    Nathan: “Sorry, but is this language lost or not? If it’s completely lost then there’s nothing there for us to infer. If you mean we have remnants from which to infer, then in that way you can say some meaning remains. In short, if it has meaning then is not meaningless. If there is nothing to infer, no meaning, then by definition it is meaningless! this is simple tautology.”

    Also, suppose an alien race finds our planet years after we’ve gone extinct and they have no concept of written language. They communicate by smell or series of patches of cells on their bodies that flash. Our languages are lost and with no one capable of understanding them they are meaningless.

    Or simpler still, the planet explodes leaving nothing behind but cinders. You get the idea. Oh, and you’d also have to imagine the space probes we’ve sent out are all destroyed too.

    Isn’t it amazing that Voyager 1 is about 10.712 billion miles away?

    Reply
  86. Ed says:

    “Well, it is a subject in many schools . . . but it’s more of a waste of time. Suppose that theology quit researching (if research is actually done in it in the first place) and they stuck with what they have to this point. They’d quickly become outdated because they cease to evolve along with the morality and will and desire of society.”

    Yes Christians sure live on borrowed capital when it comes to morality don’t they? They steal all their morals and ethics from humanism while claiming to be the source of them.

    Reply
  87. Nathan Barley says:

    What do you mean Ed? If it wasn’t for the bible, how would we know that it’s wrong to beat your slave such that they die within two days? But WITH the bible we know that it’s fine if they die, as long as it takes LONGER than two days. Bet you feel silly now!

    Reply
  88. Charles says:

    -In fact, I just realized….any question that we can ask about god, we can also ask about energy. Interesting

    Actually, it is pretty interesting.

    -*bangs head on wall*
    Energy JUST IS. It has always been. It goes wherever physics tell it to go. It didn’t “come from” anywhere because it has always existed

    Ed, no need to hurt yourself, I am just trying to understand in order to formulate whatever wisdom is to be gained by all this. That’s just the Philosophical Theists’ way. So let me ask, since energy just is; doesn’t it take concious thought to change energy from one form to another?

    -I very much doubt that. One wound think it first came from skepticism and the desire to prove a stupid idea wrong.

    Toby, perhaps that is what you would think, but in an effort to understand something questions arise and throughout time methods and formulas have been created. Much of what you nonbelievers are implying, at least what I am recieving from you, is that you are operating from a point of perfection, in that, you seem to have all the answers and totally discredit anything outside of nature. In other words, there are no anomalies, no miracles, so nothing happens out of the ordinary.

    What about timing? Is it just “dumb luck” that certain things happen at opportune or inopportune moments? We just seemed to evolve with the perfect tool for the job at the right time, I’m asking? For instance, five fingers per hand for optimum dexterity or did we just happen to be formed bi-symetrically for balance?

    I am not convinced that this is it, one ife to live and that there is nothing else anywhere, but if ID hasn’t been considered a science by the scientific community proper then can it?

    Reply
  89. Nathan Barley says:

    “doesn’t it take concious thought to change energy from one form to another?”

    No. A rock falling off a mountain is turning energy from one form to another.

    “We just seemed to evolve with the perfect tool for the job at the right time, I’m asking?”

    This is a pretty basic concept of natural selection Charles. How much have you read/been taught on the subject? Natural selection isn’t random – as the name suggests, it’s about selection, albeit naturally.

    Reply
  90. Charles says:

    -What do you mean Ed? If it wasn’t for the bible, how would we know that it’s wrong to beat your slave such that they die within two days? But WITH the bible we know that it’s fine if they die, as long as it takes LONGER than two days. Bet you feel silly now!

    Nathan, That’s an unfair jab at something that you have taken completely out of context and have refused to try to understand. Just like I am not assuming to understand humanists having read some books and articles; I don’t think its fair to assume you know the Bible just because you’ve read through it from a humanistic perspective.

    Can we stop making mockeries of what we don’t understand and stick with the point?

    Reply
  91. Nathan Barley says:

    Sure Charles, you drop the “I don’t think that Atheists will ever experience anything miraculous” stuff, and we’ll stop pointing out that the bible clearly says that it’s fine to beat your slave to death, as long as it takes more than a couple of days for them to die
    (Exodus 21:21: but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.)

    Reply
  92. Charles says:

    -No. A rock falling off a mountain is turning energy from one form to another.

    Point taken, but a concious thought can harness energy and change its form, right? Just for giggles, so to speak; if G-d were synonimous with energy is it logical to think that G-d’s thought can cause the rock to fall from said mountain, via erosion or some natural cause?

    Reply
  93. Charles says:

    -Sure Charles, you drop the “I don’t think that Atheists will ever experience anything miraculous” stuff, and we’ll stop pointing out that the bible clearly says that it’s fine to beat your slave to death, as long as it takes more than a couple of days for them to die
    (Exodus 21:21: but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.)

    Touche, and I would be glad to fully explain Exodus 21:20-21 again if you like.

    Reply
  94. Toby R. says:

    “So let me ask, since energy just is; doesn’t it take concious thought to change energy from one form to another?”

    No. The sun is proof of that. What started the sun? The energy of gravity that compressed atoms together until fusion started. What made the atoms and particles? The big bang. What caused the big bang? Who knows? But I would bet on some kind of transformation of energy.

    “Much of what you nonbelievers are implying, at least what I am recieving from you, is that you are operating from a point of perfection, in that, you seem to have all the answers and totally discredit anything outside of nature. In other words, there are no anomalies, no miracles, so nothing happens out of the ordinary.”

    I’m sure the same could be said for theist that claim to have all the answers, but that aside, no one is claiming to have all of the answers. We don’t know how our universe began, but 100% of our everyday experiences are natural and happen because of physical properties. To say we believe that nothing happens out of the ordinary isn’t accurate. You must say that we believe that things happen that are out of the ordinary, but are caused by the physical universe, not a transcendent boogey man. I’m curious to know what out of the ordinary things you mean? Example please.

    Timing? Look up a double pendulum on youtube. Say a few people in your family all get sick at once. Is this something divine or are their reasons for it? Are they all old? Were they all together someplace where someone infected them all at once? Do they all have different problems? Is it simply a statistical bump in the road, a cluster that can and does happen from time to time?

    Do you really think five fingers are optimal? That’s just our biased experience talking. Had we formed six fingers instead of five we’d have developed our tools accordingly and they’d work perfectly based on our anatomy. Why five fingers in terms of evolution? It may well have to do with balance, but not balance in some feng shui sense. Literally it was better for a creature’s balance. Had our planet had a different mass and the gravity was stronger or weaker organisms better suited to either of those conditions would have evolved accordingly perhaps with six legs instead of four. Some have said that if our gravity were less we likely would have grown very tall and if greater, we all be shorter.

    “am not convinced that this is it, one ife to live and that there is nothing else anywhere, but if ID hasn’t been considered a science by the scientific community proper then can it?”

    Then how does your beliefs square with the previously mentioned Ockhams Razor? Ask yourself if you are unnecessarily multiplying contingencies.

    Reply
  95. Nathan Barley says:

    “I would be glad to fully explain Exodus 21:20-21 again if you like”

    Go for it, though I won’t be impressed if it’s a variant of any of the following:

    God’s morality has changed since then, slavery wasn’t that big a deal in those days, those slaves had it coming, God couldn’t come right out and say that slavery was bad because it was culturally ingrained, dead slaves would go to heaven so that makes it OK.

    Remember that one could be a slave as a child simply because your dad was a slave – so any apologetics that suggests it was about indentured servitude, or that slaves had ‘turned from God’ will miss the point.

    Reply
  96. Nathan Barley says:

    “if G-d were synonimous with energy is it logical to think that G-d’s thought can cause the rock to fall from said mountain, via erosion or some natural cause?”

    Then you’re adding an extra cause that is surplus to what is needed to explain. You might as well say “Yes we understand gravity, but might it ALSO be angels pulling everything to the floor”.

    Reply
  97. TobyR. says:

    “if G-d were synonimous with energy is it logical to think that G-d’s thought can cause the rock to fall from said mountain, via erosion or some natural cause?”

    If god was energy then god would literally be everything–energy and mass. I would assume frank and john wouldn’t like this idea as they have spent so much time talking against material (a form of energy) being able to cause anything. Pantheism.

    Reply
  98. Charles says:

    -Go for it, though I won’t be impressed if it’s a variant of any of the following:

    God’s morality has changed since then, slavery wasn’t that big a deal in those days, those slaves had it coming, God couldn’t come right out and say that slavery was bad because it was culturally ingrained, dead slaves would go to heaven so that makes it OK.

    Remember that one could be a slave as a child simply because your dad was a slave – so any apologetics that suggests it was about indentured servitude, or that slaves had ‘turned from God’ will miss the point.

    Nathan, What you are misinterpreting is the use of “he” in the passage; “he” representing both slave and master according to the KJV. What the passage is actually stating is if a slave master disciplines his slave and the slave dies then the slave master is to be punished. If, after two or three days the slave is still alive then the Judges considered that the slave master was not being malicious and trying to kill the slave, thus no punishment to the slave master.

    -If god was energy then god would literally be everything–energy and mass. I would assume frank and john wouldn’t like this idea as they have spent so much time talking against material (a form of energy) being able to cause anything. Pantheism

    I was asking hypothetically, I don’t believe God is merely energy alone, but just out my own ignorance of science I was considering God as the source or energy being the source of energy and not necessarily Pantheism. I also believe material does contain energy, but couldn’t cause or be the source of energy.

    Reply
  99. Nathan barley says:

    ” If, after two or three days the slave is still alive then the Judges considered that the slave master was not being malicious and trying to kill the slave, thus no punishment to the slave master.”

    Right, so you’re not refuting anything I said – that if the slave takes more than two days to die then the master is seen as having done nothing wrong. Because the slave is his property. Sound moral to you?

    Reply
  100. Charles says:

    -Right, so you’re not refuting anything I said – that if the slave takes more than two days to die then the master is seen as having done nothing wrong. Because the slave is his property. Sound moral to you?

    Nathan, the slave doesn’t die. If there is no death then the slave master is not seen as guilty by the Judges. If the slave dies within two or three days then the slave master is guilty.

    Reply
  101. TobyR. says:

    “Nathan, the slave doesn’t die. If there is no death then the slave master is not seen as guilty by the Judges. If the slave dies within two or three days then the slave master is guilty.”

    But the questions are, “Is it moral to own slaves?” and “Is it moral to beat slaves (or anyone)?”

    Reply
  102. Charles says:

    I really did not want to get off topic but since you asked I will answer. No, it was never moral to own or beat slaves. Slavery was a concept that man invented. Out of pride, there are a multitude of sins that follow, the enslavement of others being the result of greed, hatred and so on. Remember also, the Hebrews were enslaved by Egyptians for over 400 years. So, since man has hardened his heart, God allowed it but gave the Hebrews a structure to govern the practice. So no, it was never moral, God just knew that His people were naturally rebellious, All people, Jew

    Reply
  103. Charles says:

    And Gentile. The same rationale was used for divorce. It was never meant for husband and wife to divorce, but because of man’s wicked nature God knew we would rebel so He set up the rules to govern it.

    Reply
  104. Tim D. says:

    Ed, no need to hurt yourself, I am just trying to understand in order to formulate whatever wisdom is to be gained by all this. That’s just the Philosophical Theists’ way. So let me ask, since energy just is; doesn’t it take concious thought to change energy from one form to another?

    That was me, not Ed.

    And no, it doesn’t take conscious thought to change energy from one form to another. It happens all the time in nature, every time something collides with something else, every time the wind blows, every time sunlight shines on something.

    Much of what you nonbelievers are implying, at least what I am recieving from you, is that you are operating from a point of perfection, in that, you seem to have all the answers and totally discredit anything outside of nature. In other words, there are no anomalies, no miracles, so nothing happens out of the ordinary.

    Not at all; not even close, actually. I claim no perfect knowledge; but rather I’m saying that our methods for determining what we believe to be possible should be as consistent as possible. Consistency is the basis of everything; if it’s not consistent then it’s nonsense. And so if your method does not apply consistency, then it’s not really a method at all, rather, you’re just choosing what to believe based on how badly you want to believe it.

    What about timing? Is it just “dumb luck” that certain things happen at opportune or inopportune moments? We just seemed to evolve with the perfect tool for the job at the right time, I’m asking? For instance, five fingers per hand for optimum dexterity or did we just happen to be formed bi-symetrically for balance?

    I’m sure there are plenty of biological settings that would be “more optimal” than what humans have evolved today. But we are not perfect beings, we are simply the product of evolution so far. So nobody is saying that what we have now is “perfect” or even “optimal,” just that it suits us well enough for what it does. I mean, I can imagine it being “more optimal” not to have a useless organ waiting in my abdomen to potentially explode for no significant reason and spread deadly poison throughout my body. But it’s there.

    I am not convinced that this is it, one ife to live and that there is nothing else anywhere, but if ID hasn’t been considered a science by the scientific community proper then can it?

    As it stands now? No, it can’t. But what ID could do to prove its own validity is to demonstrate how it would be possible for something to exist without time, space, or matter. It’s inconsistent and unfounded to simply assert that such a thing could exist; we have no basis on which to say that it’s even possible. Anything that is spaceless or timeless, essentially doesn’t exist. So how could something be spaceless or timeless and yet also exist? On what grounds does it exist? These are the types of questions ID and Creationism must answer before it will be taken seriously by the scientific community. As it stands, it rests on an entirely circular assumption that “the universe had to have a supernatural creator, therefore the supernatural is possible, therefore there is valid reason to say that the universe had a supernatural creator.” That is not a scientific statement at all.

    Nathan, That’s an unfair jab at something that you have taken completely out of context and have refused to try to understand. Just like I am not assuming to understand humanists having read some books and articles; I don’t think its fair to assume you know the Bible just because you’ve read through it from a humanistic perspective.

    No, I’m afraid it is you who refuse to accept the context of that story.

    Can we stop making mockeries of what we don’t understand and stick with the point?

    Yes, I’d like for you to do that. You can start with evolution.

    Point taken, but a concious thought can harness energy and change its form, right? Just for giggles, so to speak; if G-d were synonimous with energy is it logical to think that G-d’s thought can cause the rock to fall from said mountain, via erosion or some natural cause?

    If god is energy, then god is essentially a robot, because energy operates based on physical laws. Energy is neither personal nor conscious, it does not “make decisions,” it simply goes where the characteristics of physics force it to, like a cart on rails. Energy cannot create, destroy, or morally judge anything; like all other aspects of physical nature, it simply “is.”

    If that’s what you mean to say then I can accept that as a fair possibility.

    Touche, and I would be glad to fully explain Exodus 21:20-21 again if you like.

    Your explanation is incorrect, however; even if God allowed slavery because “it was a sinful invention of man,” and even if God allowed the Israelites to be enslaved for 400 years….God did not give the Egyptians rules on how to take care of the Israelite slaves. In fact, he performed miracles for the express purpose of freeing them. So why blatantly free the Israelites from slavery, while refusing to help the very slaves that the Israelits took on their own? Your explanation does not take this into account because it is post-hoc reasoning, invented retrospectively to justify God’s behavior for the modern age, now that slavery is no longer considered moral.

    So, since man has hardened his heart, God allowed it but gave the Hebrews a structure to govern the practice. So no, it was never moral, God just knew that His people were naturally rebellious, All people, Jew

    So why did he not also give the Egyptians a system to govern the Israelite slaves? In God’s own words, the pharaoh had “hardened his heart” to God….except, oh wait! God said that he would deliberately harden the Pharaoh’s heart, so that God could make an example of him to those who would defy him!

    And Gentile. The same rationale was used for divorce. It was never meant for husband and wife to divorce, but because of man’s wicked nature God knew we would rebel so He set up the rules to govern it.

    So why did he never set up the rules for murder? Or homosexuality? Humans do these things frequently as well; why did God not “acknowledge our sinful nature” and give us laws on how to properly murder each other, or properly bugger each other?

    Reply
  105. Charles says:

    Ed, please accept my apology for referring to you erroneously.

    Tim, The interpretation I gave you is correct because it is consistent with OT teaching. God did give rules for governance of sin in the Ten Commandments. The bottom line concerning Scripture is that humanity is corrupted. The Torah outlines God’s structure for the governance of humanity (Exodus, Deuteronomy and Leviticus) which He gave to the Hebrews because they were the only people who demonstrated Faith in Him (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, etc).

    Egyptians, Ammonites, Hittites, Assyrians, Persians, etc, all rejected the God of Israel and chose to worship idols and made up their own way by worshiping natural things. They worshiped things such as man made carvings, statues, images, celestial things like the moon and sun and even worshiped themselves.

    -So why did he not also give the Egyptians a system to govern the Israelite slaves? In God’s own words, the pharaoh had “hardened his heart” to God….except, oh wait! God said that he would deliberately harden the Pharaoh’s heart, so that God could make an example of him to those who would defy him!

    The hearts of ALL men were hardened already, the Egyptians worshiped other human beings in which Pharaoh, a human, enslaved people for personal gain. Pharaoh thought himself to be God and referred to himself as such, so why not prove to your competitor who you are while at the same time strengthen the only people that accept you?

    I just want to say that I really didn’t want to get off topic, but I also think its important that we know the truth about what we are discussing.

    Reply
  106. Tim D. says:

    Tim, The interpretation I gave you is correct because it is consistent with OT teaching. God did give rules for governance of sin in the Ten Commandments.

    It is still wrong because it does not address why God performed miracles to free the Israelites, and yet did not perform miracles to free the Israelites’ slaves.

    Even if we accept that sometimes, for some unknown reason, God decides to “just let humans get away with” certain sins for a certain time, there are still several times where God “puts his foot down,” so to speak — such as regarding murder, theft, and adultery, among the other things mentioned in Exodus alongside the 10 commandments. So I ask, once again, why did God not put his foot down about slavery, if in fact it was such a great evil? And also, why can we not apply the same logic to murder, theft and adultery, among other things? Humans do all of those things to this day; saying that “humans are sinful and will do evil anyway, therefore God should give laws on how to best carry out evil” would of course carry over into other “evils” such as murder, theft and adultery….and yet for some reason it is not. God REFUSES to accept any of those things, and yet he is so ready and willing to accept slavery. Why is that? That is what I am asking you, and you keep dancing around and avoiding it — what is the fundamental difference between slavery as an “evil invented by humans,” and murder and theft and adultery as “evils invented by humans?”

    The hearts of ALL men were hardened already, the Egyptians worshiped other human beings in which Pharaoh, a human, enslaved people for personal gain.If the Pharaoh and the Egyptians had worshipped the god of Israel, and abided by the rules and commandments thusly, would it have been okay for them to enslave the Israelites?

    Pharaoh thought himself to be God and referred to himself as such, so why not prove to your competitor who you are while at the same time strengthen the only people that accept you?

    A sin is a sin; Pharaoh sins one way, Jews sin another. Jews believe in the “right” God, so they get a free pass for their blatant immorality, Egyptians don’t believe in the “right” god, so they’re condemnable. That is what this amounts to — the Egyptians believed in the wrong god. There’s no other issue of morality here than that.

    I just want to say that I really didn’t want to get off topic, but I also think its important that we know the truth about what we are discussing.

    As do I.

    Reply
  107. Tim D. says:

    HTML error, trying again 🙁

    Tim, The interpretation I gave you is correct because it is consistent with OT teaching. God did give rules for governance of sin in the Ten Commandments.

    It is still wrong because it does not address why God performed miracles to free the Israelites, and yet did not perform miracles to free the Israelites’ slaves.

    Even if we accept that sometimes, for some unknown reason, God decides to “just let humans get away with” certain sins for a certain time, there are still several times where God “puts his foot down,” so to speak — such as regarding murder, theft, and adultery, among the other things mentioned in Exodus alongside the 10 commandments. So I ask, once again, why did God not put his foot down about slavery, if in fact it was such a great evil? And also, why can we not apply the same logic to murder, theft and adultery, among other things? Humans do all of those things to this day; saying that “humans are sinful and will do evil anyway, therefore God should give laws on how to best carry out evil” would of course carry over into other “evils” such as murder, theft and adultery….and yet for some reason it is not. God REFUSES to accept any of those things, and yet he is so ready and willing to accept slavery. Why is that? That is what I am asking you, and you keep dancing around and avoiding it — what is the fundamental difference between slavery as an “evil invented by humans,” and murder and theft and adultery as “evils invented by humans?”

    The hearts of ALL men were hardened already, the Egyptians worshiped other human beings in which Pharaoh, a human, enslaved people for personal gain.

    …sort of like the Jews did? The only difference is that the Pharaoh’s people weren’t the same religion as the Jews. So that means it was only wrong for the Egyptians to enslave the Jews because the Egyptians didn’t believe in the right God? So let me pose you a hypothetical: If the Pharaoh and the Egyptians had worshipped the god of Israel, and abided by the rules and commandments thusly, would it have been okay for them to enslave the Israelites?

    Pharaoh thought himself to be God and referred to himself as such, so why not prove to your competitor who you are while at the same time strengthen the only people that accept you?

    A sin is a sin; Pharaoh sins one way, Jews sin another. Jews believe in the “right” God, so they get a free pass for their blatant immorality, Egyptians don’t believe in the “right” god, so they’re condemnable. That is what this amounts to — the Egyptians believed in the wrong god. There’s no other issue of morality here than that.

    I just want to say that I really didn’t want to get off topic, but I also think its important that we know the truth about what we are discussing.

    As do I.

    Reply
  108. Luke says:

    Charles said: Nathan, [in Exodus 21:20-21] the slave doesn’t die. If there is no death then the slave master is not seen as guilty by the Judges.

    Charles, I don’t want to get in on your conversation, but Nathan is right here and your interpretation is not correct as far as I can tell.

    Let’s look at some translations of Ex 21:21:

    NASB: If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.

    KJV: Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two he shall not be punished for he [is] his money

    NKJV: Notwithstanding, if he remains alive a day or two, he shall not be punished; for he is his property.

    NRSV: But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property.

    Net: However, if the injured servant survives one or two days, the owner will not be punished, for he has suffered the loss.

    Look at Net and KJV (KJV is a best word-for-word rendering of the Hebrew) — the master suffers a loss. What is the loss if the slave does not die?

    NIV suggests a recovery for the slave, not death, but there is little to support this (Net and NASB are both very literal translations, unlike NIV which takes some liberties according to many scholars (eg Metzger)).

    The Hebrew verb used is most often translated as to stand, remain, endure. (Yes, it could mean to stand up, but there is little context to support that here — hence the agreement among most translations for Nathan’s reading.)

    I am sure you could find people out there, but the majority of Biblical scholars and translator clearly agree with Nathan here.

    You are correct though, that the law seems to be written to say that since the slave survives for a day or two, the intent was not to kill. The underlying assumption one must accept here though, is that it is moral to own another human being, and that it is moral to beat that human being when they “get out of line.”

    (And I would add, though this is more subjective, that it is morally acceptable to beat that person pretty severely. Any beating that would result in either death, or even (given your more charitable reading) being unable to walk for a couple of day, is a pretty severe beating in my view.)

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  109. Charles says:

    -It is still wrong because it does not address why God performed miracles to free the Israelites, and yet did not perform miracles to free the Israelites’ slaves.

    Tim, please understand; what God did for Israel He did because certain individuals had demonstrated Faith by obeying what God asked of them in spite of persecution, ridicule and great loss. Entire nations of people rejected Him, most of which didn’t even acknowledge His existence. So through the lineage of Shem, one of Noah’s sons, God made a nation of people who demonstrated Faith in Him. Why Shem and not Ham or Japheth? These Brothers are said to have had three different agendas regarding their personal beliefs. Ham’s focus was thought to be power; he is believed to be the father of the Ethiopians and Egyptians. Japheth’s focus being understanding, giving rise to western civilization I believe giving great contributions regarding the sciences and philosophy. Shem’s focus was righteousness, thus fostering strong Faith.

    So Shem’s lineage gave birth to Judaism as well as Islam; as he is said to be the patriarch of the Semitic people. Of the Semitics, Arphaxad, one Shem’s five sons, was the father of Abraham. We know what God asked of him. The point is, out of a world that either rejected or didn’t acknowledge Him, God blessed the one nation that did.

    The rest of the world worshiped nature, images and statues made by man (graven images) and themselves as gods. In other words, worshiping the creation instead of the Creator.

    This is why God blessed Israel and not those of other nations in the OT. God provided all that humanity ever needed to live harmoniously, but because of disobedience and lack of Faith people disrupted harmony and rejected Him. Now you tell me, is it moral for a creation to reject its creator?

    Reply
  110. Tim D. says:

    Tim, please understand; what God did for Israel He did because certain individuals had demonstrated Faith by obeying what God asked of them in spite of persecution, ridicule and great loss.

    So do you mean to say that God allowed the Israelites to own slaves as a reward for their faith?

    These Brothers are said to have had three different agendas regarding their personal beliefs. Ham’s focus was thought to be power; he is believed to be the father of the Ethiopians and Egyptians. Japheth’s focus being understanding, giving rise to western civilization I believe giving great contributions regarding the sciences and philosophy. Shem’s focus was righteousness, thus fostering strong Faith.

    That’s all very interesting but it’s mere theological speculation — “it was thought to be,” or “it was believed to be,” etc. — and thus not very relevant to the issue at hand.

    This is why God blessed Israel and not those of other nations in the OT. God provided all that humanity ever needed to live harmoniously, but because of disobedience and lack of Faith people disrupted harmony and rejected Him. Now you tell me, is it moral for a creation to reject its creator?

    1) So god did reward the faith of his chosen people by allowing them to take nonbelievers (and even themselves) as slaves.

    2) I hardly think that a follower of any god who rewards his followers’ faith with slaves has any ground on which to accuse others of being “immoral.”

    3) The second part of your statement here is *another* fallacy….you assume far too many things in arrogantly accusing people of “rejecting their creators.” Firstly, you assume that a person is thoroughly convinced of God’s existence, as opposed to having sincere doubts; second, you assume that the person, being so convinced of God’s existence, chooses in spite of that assumed belief to “deny” or “reject” the god in question. It’s this kind of thinking that drives people like me — who may otherwise be a bit more open to the concept of the Christian god — away from this drastic theological standpoint of yours; you assume so much about people you don’t even know. If you can’t even be trusted to make simple judgments about simple humans, why should you be trusted to make judgments about the nature of god?

    Reply
  111. Charles says:

    Luke, I appreciate the translations given and out of humility I digress. You may be correct about death and if so I humbly apologize to Nathan and Tim; I stand corrected.

    Regarding the rationale for the allowance for slavery and other structures of governance God instituted because of sin regarding men; I do stand by my position.

    Reply
  112. Nathan Barley says:

    “God blessed the one nation that did”

    I thought I already pre-empted this. Why should a child be made a slave just because his parents rejected God? The child hasn’t made such a choice, but he could be enslaved simply because his parents were slaves and produced him.

    Also, it seems clear to me that ‘as long as he doesn’t die within two days’ means it’s find if he dies AFTER two days. If a man beat my daughter severely, and then she went into a coma, and she died three days later, I would hold that man responsible, wouldn’t you? I wouldn’t say ‘she didn’t die within two days, therefore he had no intent to kill her’.

    Reply
  113. Nathan Barley says:

    “…if so I humbly apologize to Nathan and Tim; I stand corrected.”

    Fair enough Charles. I don’t mean to bate anyone with these quotes – my own view is that those were different times, social mores change.

    I only bring up those less savoury parts of the bible when people use the bible to dogmatically assert how we should act now (or when people start making sweeping statements about atheists). It strikes me as dishonest to cherry pick parts to support their own point of view, ignoring the parts that disagree with their point of view. It also baffles me how people can make the ‘no morality but through the Christian God’ argument in the light of such ‘pro slavery’ passages.

    (NB: Any apologetics for slavery is ‘pro slavery’ as far as I’m concerned. If you’re not unambiguously saying you’re against it, then you are tacitly supporting it).

    Reply
  114. Tim D. says:

    Regarding the rationale for the allowance for slavery and other structures of governance God instituted because of sin regarding men; I do stand by my position.

    So then you do agree with the statements in my recent post regarding your position? ….very well.

    Reply
  115. Nathan Barley says:

    “Ham’s focus was thought to be power; he is believed to be the father of the Ethiopians and Egyptians. Japheth’s focus being understanding, giving rise to western civilization I believe giving great contributions regarding the sciences and philosophy.”

    This makes me feel quite queazy, and it ignores everything we know about why for centuries the West led the way in the sciences and philosophy. Charlie, I’d recommend Jared Diamond’s excellent book “Guns, Germs and Steel” for a thorough investigation of the question.

    But in short, the West was able to spend time on the sciences once it improved farming to the point that you didn’t need 95% of the population producing the food. Once 2% were able to do all the farming, the remaining 98% were able to focus on other things. The industrial revolution allowed even greater specialisation of labour.

    All of this was enabled initially by exploiting certain species in farming, species that you just didn’t find in Australia or Africa. You can’t get a zebra to pull a plough in the same way you can a horse. All attempts at domesticating zebras have failed. Marsupials make lousy farm animals too, a knock on effect gives us a clue to why the Austrian Aborigines never developed complex machinery.

    In fact only 14 species of large animal seem to be capable of domestication – dog, sheep, goat, pig, cow, horse, donkey, water buffalo, llama/alpaca, bactrian camel, and Arabian camel.

    “Farming in the Fertile Crescent gave Westerners a huge advantage over other societies. By the cultivation of crops like barley and wheat, along with the domestication of animals like goats and sheep, food surpluses could be created. Such ‘food security’ in turn allowed spare time to develop advanced technologies.”

    All of this shows that we should be wary of arrogance when we attempt to explain the dominance of Western Civilisation.

    Reply
  116. Ed says:

    Charles,
    Do you even know how to tell the difference between a fictional narrative and an historical one? Historical narratives do not contain accounts of word for word conversations between people or people and talking animals or people and angels or people and gods. Only fictional narratives contain dialog and there are NO exceptions to this rule. When we hold the Bible up to standard literary criticism it fails every test there is for history and passes all the tests for fiction with flying colors. This means that Noah and his family are fictional characters who never existed in a story that never happened. If you claim not to be superstitious then what is your excuse for believing this story? It’s in the Bible?

    Reply
  117. Charles says:

    -So do you mean to say that God allowed the Israelites to own slaves as a reward for their faith?

    It wasn’t considered so much of a rewad in the sense that as human beings were doing these things anyway. To my understanding, slavery was something that the majority of nations practiced during that time. The reward, if there was one, was in that Israel prospered even with slaves and, if I am not mistaken, the slaves that the Israelites had were not treated as harshly as other nations because of God’s mandates concerning their treatment.

    – you assume so much about people you don’t even know. If you can’t even be trusted to make simple judgments about simple humans, why should you be trusted to make judgments about the nature of god?

    The nature of man is flawed. The secular worldview assumes that people aren’t inherently evil. The Biblical worldview is the polar opposite. We believe all flesh, myself included, deserve the same crucifiction that Christ beared because of our mere potential for evil. I don’t believe I am making arrogant judgements about people because I am speaking in general regarding nations. Individually, I have the utmost compassion for human life because I believe we were all made in the same image and I am no better than the worst person.

    The whole thing is this; God never changed His mind about His hatred for flesh. Christ simply ended the Old Testement through His death. This began the New Testement of grace in which He did not “abolish the law”, but in Him it was fulfilled. God still hates flesh and always will. But, “..it pleased God to bruise His Son”; meaning God was satisfied with this sacrifice and so by this sacrifice we all have grace and favor with God; but by acknowledgement, repentence an Baptism ( taking on His spirit) . To die to one’s self doesn’t mean changing who a person is, but simply allowing God to govern their life instead of man or government (a subtle form of slavery). The only two commandments Christ gave were To Love God and to Love each other; in those two Commandments is the fulfillment of all of the Law of Moses through Christ. I don’t have my Bible with me at the moment, but I can back all this up with Scripture.

    Nathan, Thank you for the book recommendation, I’ll make sure to find and read it.

    Reply
  118. Nathan Barley says:

    “Israel prospered even with slaves”

    It’s a sad fact that slave trading IS very profitable. That’s why people did it, and that’s why it was so hard to stop them doing it. Britain and the US – to their joint shame – also prospered with slaves.

    Reply
  119. Frank Turek says:

    How did you guys go from “Is Intelligent Design Science?” to slavery?

    This is why it is often so difficult and time consuming to have a real discussion about anything here. No one can stay on topic!

    Reply
  120. Charles says:

    Sorry Frank.

    Going back to my post from yesterday:

    -I was asking hypothetically, I don’t believe God is merely energy alone, but just out of my own ignorance of science I was considering God as the source or energy being the source of energy and not necessarily Pantheism. I also believe material does contain energy, but couldn’t cause or be the source of energy.

    Reply
  121. Tim D. says:

    It wasn’t considered so much of a rewad in the sense that as human beings were doing these things anyway.

    So, again, how is this different from, say, abortion? I really would like to know this.

    The reward, if there was one, was in that Israel prospered even with slaves and, if I am not mistaken, the slaves that the Israelites had were not treated as harshly as other nations because of God’s mandates concerning their treatment.

    So again, following this line of reasoning….if the Egyptians had believed in Yahweh and followed his rituals, do you believe that it would have been acceptable for the Egyptians to keep the Israelites as slaves?

    I don’t believe I am making arrogant judgements about people because I am speaking in general regarding nations.

    You could say the same thing about “black people,” or “arabs,” or any group of people, really — “it’s not racism because I’m speaking generally.”

    The secular worldview assumes that people aren’t inherently evil. The Biblical worldview is the polar opposite.

    Exactly. I don’t believe anyone is inherently “good” or inherently “evil.” Actions are good or bad, not people. People are simply potential; there’s no need for all of that blood and murder and killing and sacrifice in the name of God because of one group of people’s grotesque and distorted sense of self-hatred.

    How did you guys go from “Is Intelligent Design Science?” to slavery?

    One argument is based on another argument; questioning that leads to further justification which is then questioned, so on and so forth.

    -I was asking hypothetically, I don’t believe God is merely energy alone, but just out of my own ignorance of science I was considering God as the source or energy being the source of energy and not necessarily Pantheism. I also believe material does contain energy, but couldn’t cause or be the source of energy.

    Problem is, if energy had a “source” then the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics wouldn’t really be true. A source implies creation, or beginning. Energy can be neither created nor destroyed.

    Reply
  122. Charles says:

    -So, again, how is this different from, say, abortion? I really would like to know this.

    It isn’t. The only difference is a different Covenant; instead of under law, we are under Grace.

    -So again, following this line of reasoning….if the Egyptians had believed in Yahweh and followed his rituals, do you believe that it would have been acceptable for the Egyptians to keep the Israelites as slaves?

    Actually? Yes. But consider, first, that had the Egyptians believed in Yahweh it is likely that there wouldn’t have been any contention between them and the Israelites, thus no need for slaves between them.

    -You could say the same thing about “black people,” or “arabs,” or any group of people, really — “it’s not racism because I’m speaking generally.”

    I’m afraid so. No argument here. No one ever said God was fair, but just and righteous, not necessarily fair.

    -People are simply potential; there’s no need for all of that blood and murder and killing and sacrifice in the name of God because of one group of people’s grotesque and distorted sense of self-hatred.

    Right again, but think for a second. every nation surrounding Israel did the same thing only the other nations sacrificed to idols. There was just as much if not more grotesque bloody murder and sacrifice.

    -Energy can be neither created nor destroyed.

    Understood, now my question is; is the universe expanding? If so, what is it expanding in or is it just hung out in nothing.

    Reply
  123. Tim D. says:

    Wow. Thank you for your honest and concise answers, Mr. Charles. I respectfully disagree on the matters of justice and sacrifice, but it’s nice to see that you are no longer mincing words when stating your beliefs.

    Understood, now my question is; is the universe expanding? If so, what is it expanding in or is it just hung out in nothing.

    That’s an interesting question. I tried to find a succinct summation in a short, catchy paragraph that would make it easy to understand, and in my search I found this article, titled What Is The Universe Expanding Into? from a website called “Curious About Astronomy.” Here is a relevant excerpt, for starters:

    Q: I am very confused about things my science book says about the expanding universe. Every book I have seen has defined the universe as “everything”. If the universe is expanding what is it expanding into? It would have to expand into even more universe. I understand that the red spectra indicates that things are moving away from us but that is drifting not expanding, right? If you could help me to understand this, it would be appreciated. Thank you for your time.

    A: This is a very good question which is not at all easy to give a satisfactory answer to! The first time I tried to write an answer to this, we got so many follow-up questions from people who were still confused that I decided to try to answer it again, this time much more comprehensively. The long explanation is below. However, if you just want a short answer, I’ll say this: if the universe is infinitely big, then the answer is simply that it isn’t expanding into anything; instead, what is happening is that every region of the universe, every distance between every pair of galaxies, is being “stretched”, but the overall size of the universe was infinitely big to begin with and continues to remain infinitely big as time goes on, so the universe’s size doesn’t change, and therefore it doesn’t expand into anything. If, on the other hand, the universe has a finite size, then it may be legitimate to claim that there is something “outside of the universe” that the universe is expanding into. However, because we are, by definition, stuck within the space that makes up our universe and have no way to observe anything outside of it, this ceases to be a question that can be answered scientifically. So the answer in that case is that we really don’t know what, if anything, the universe is expanding into.

    There is a more comprehensive, scientific explanation later in the article, should you decide to look it up yourself and read it. It was too long to post here as a reference. But the simple answer is, it’s expanding into nothing; the “expansion” of the universe is an expansion of existing, finite space (no space is being added or created from thin air as the expansion happens, but rather being stretched from existing space), not a literal “expansion” in the sense of “magically getting bigger.” It’s all ultimately a conservation of mass and energy and matter and space — nothing is being created or destroyed.

    As for “existing,” well, our very definition of that term arises from observation of the physical world. So in the event that there somehow is some sort of “non-space” that exists outside of our universe, into which the universe is expanding, it would have to “exist” in a sense that completely defies our current understanding of what “exist” means. So basically, without some kind of “sample” or precedent, we can’t say much of anything about that kind of existence because we have no experience with it. Any judgments we could make about it at this point would be without scientific basis. But that does not mean it’s not theoretically possible; just that nobody has presented such a sample to make it evident that it is so.

    It’s my opinion that such a sample would still not classify ID or Creationism as science (because in itself, it would not necessarily imply a creator, or intelligence), but it would be the first step on a long road to doing so.

    Reply
  124. Tim D. says:

    P.S.

    Forgot to HTML break between the article and my editorializing….my commentary begins here:

    There is a more comprehensive, scientific explanation later in the article…

    Reply
  125. Charles says:

    Tim, So do you think it is irrational to speculate that there may be something that exists beyond our current understanding? I say this because Verses such as 2 Corinthians 12:2 express that there is a third Heaven. In the verse, Paul is speaking of a man he knows of (probably himself) that was caught up to the third Heaven and the idea is that the first Heaven being the sky or the atmosphere just above the Earth. The second Heaven beyond the sky and into the vastness of the the Universe and the third being outside of time and space. Interesting.

    Also, the fact that 1 Corinthians 15:50 tells us that no flesh can enter into the kingdom of God. Flesh being temporal and so bound by time and space. It is my understanding that no material can exist with the absence of either or both time and space.

    For Paul to have been caught up into the third Heaven with this understanding means it had to be an out of body experience.

    Reply
  126. Tim D. says:

    Tim, So do you think it is irrational to speculate that there may be something that exists beyond our current understanding?

    Is it possible? Anything is possible. I just don’t have a reason to believe it at this point.

    If mere “possibility” were a good enough criteria for belief in something, then I would have to believe in pretty much everything.

    And I still don’t see the point of using the Bible to justify or postulate supernatural claims to other people; the Bible itself is a natural book, written by man (who is natural, not supernatural); even if you say it’s the word of God, or “inspired” by God, you still have to take man’s word for that.

    Reply
  127. Charles says:

    -If mere “possibility” were a good enough criteria for belief in something, then I would have to believe in pretty much everything.

    And I still don’t see the point of using the Bible to justify or postulate supernatural claims to other people; the Bible itself is a natural book, written by man (who is natural, not supernatural); even if you say it’s the word of God, or “inspired” by God, you still have to take man’s word for that.

    Tim, My response to this is summed up with this:
    Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for , the evidence of things not seen.

    This is where Faith comes in.

    Reply
  128. Charles says:

    -Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.

    Ed, well your half right. I mean, in believing what I know. As far as ain’t so, well that remains to be seen.

    Reply
  129. Tim D. says:

    Tim, My response to this is summed up with this:
    Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for , the evidence of things not seen.

    This is where Faith comes in.

    You miss the point again…you have to take man’s word that such a thing was even said in the first place, not to mention whether or not it’s true. So then is it not actually man that you have faith in, then?

    Reply
  130. Nathan Barley says:

    “So then is it not actually man that you have faith in, then?”

    Hmm, yes – a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. And a story is only as reliable as the least reliable person involved in the telling of it.

    Reply
  131. Charles says:

    -Hmm, yes – a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. And a story is only as reliable as the least reliable person involved in the telling of it.

    -So then is it not actually man that you have faith in, then?

    Tim and Nathan, absolutely not. Albeit, men may have written the physical words…. you know, as I am thinking about the proper response; it occurred to me that belief in the Bible has to become personal before anyone can believe it. I really hate to get off topic again; please forgive me Frank and anyone else reading this. The physical book, the physical words on the pages; these things are irrelevant. The Faith is not going to develop by what the Bible says as much as what it does.

    Before Faith in the Bible can truly develop a person, first, needs to be able to identify with the Cross of Christ. If a person cannot do that one thing then it will never become personal, thus chances are it may not ever happen. But, to answer the question; no I do not have Faith in man or mankind.

    Reply
  132. Tim D. says:

    Tim and Nathan, absolutely not. Albeit, men may have written the physical words…. you know, as I am thinking about the proper response; it occurred to me that belief in the Bible has to become personal before anyone can believe it. I really hate to get off topic again; please forgive me Frank and anyone else reading this. The physical book, the physical words on the pages; these things are irrelevant. The Faith is not going to develop by what the Bible says as much as what it does.

    Before Faith in the Bible can truly develop a person, first, needs to be able to identify with the Cross of Christ. If a person cannot do that one thing then it will never become personal, thus chances are it may not ever happen. But, to answer the question; no I do not have Faith in man or mankind.

    How do you even know about any of this without reading it from the Bible?

    You wouldn’t know anything about Jesus if you hadn’t taken someone else’s word for it. Unless you’re going to try and make the case that we somehow magically “know” about Jesus from the time we’re born. In which case I’m more than happy to grab a bag of chips, sit back and watch you work that one out :/

    Reply
  133. Charles says:

    -How do you even know about any of this without reading it from the Bible?

    Romans 10:17 – So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. – In other words, when the individual is open to the idea of faith they hear the wisdom of God and it can be recieved.

    -You wouldn’t know anything about Jesus if you hadn’t taken someone else’s word for it. Unless you’re going to try and make the case that we somehow magically “know” about Jesus from the time we’re born. In which case I’m more than happy to grab a bag of chips, sit back and watch you work that one out :/

    Tim, in a sense you’re right, the only thing is everyone’s “experience” will not be the same. I wouldn’t say that we “magically” know about Jesus, but the understanding of Scripture is that, just like Jeremiah, God knew us and ordained us for a purpose before the foundation of the world. (not necessarily the earth, but the world). Everything created was created to solve a problem; this includes all of nature. Everything we need has been provided and there is nothing within creation that is here arbitrarily. Yes, that appendix serves a purpose at some point; I just couldn’t tell you what.

    So its not about this sudden change with gregorian chants and bells tolling and all the glory of the Lord overwhelming the individual; but a process begins and the transformation is gradual, but very powerful regarding the perspective and the wisdom recieved. It does take hearing though; and hearing by the word of God; you can’t view this thing carnally because what the Bible does within us is not natural.

    Again, Frank I apologize and I am more than happy to get back on topic.

    Reply
  134. Nathan Barley says:

    “In other words, when the individual is open to the idea of faith they hear the wisdom of God and it can be recieved.”

    But that in itself comes from the bible! You’re quoting from the bible to explain why quotes from the bible aren’t that important – that’s a circular argument.

    Reply
  135. Ed says:

    I rarely agree with Frank Turek about anything. However he’s right when he says: “This is why it is often so difficult and time consuming to have a real discussion about anything here. No one can stay on topic!”

    Intelligent Design Magic is NOT science. It’s a Christian religious hoax invented to dupe a scientifically ignorant American public into allowing Christian creationism into our public schools. Hank Hanegraaff has admitted this on his radio show many times and I quote: “If we can just get Intelligent Design (Magic) into the public school science classes then we can tell the students who that designer is – the Lord Jesus Christ.” Intelligent Design Magic is all about Jesus and nothing about science. Jesus Christ never existed.

    Reply
  136. Charles says:

    -But that in itself comes from the bible! You’re quoting from the bible to explain why quotes from the bible aren’t that important – that’s a circular argument.

    Nathan, I am not saying that quotes from the Bible aren’t that important. What I am trying to explain is that; sure, you can read it, you know what the words mean and anyone can dissect and analyze the Scripture. The thing is; doing this alone makes it impersonal. If it is not personal then one may find it overwhelmingly difficult to understand the Bible’s true significance and meaning.

    I used the Scripture passages only to support what I was explaining.

    Reply
  137. Charles says:

    -Intelligent Design Magic is NOT science. It’s a Christian religious hoax invented to dupe a scientifically ignorant American public into allowing Christian creationism into our public schools. Hank Hanegraaff has admitted this on his radio show many times and I quote: “If we can just get Intelligent Design (Magic) into the public school science classes then we can tell the students who that designer is – the Lord Jesus Christ.” Intelligent Design Magic is all about Jesus and nothing about science. Jesus Christ never existed.

    Again, I apologize for veering of topic; I just did not want to ignore anyone.

    Ed, your last sentence is an opinion. You can try to prove it as much as possible; but the bottom line is whatever you use to discredit belief has a rebuttal so we would waste tons of energy volleying back and forth. I do; however, agree with you about staying on topic.

    Reply
  138. Ed says:

    Nope, it is a FACT that Jesus Christ never existed. A fact is merely a widely held observation. There are no observations of Jesus Christ so it is therefore widely held observation that no such person as Jesus Christ ever existed. I challenge you to present your best evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ and I will prove that you have no evidence.

    Reply
  139. Charles says:

    Ed, I am not trying to ignore your post, but I think your challenge will best be handled in another topic where the challenge will be on topic. I have no quams about this challenge, but out of respect for the owner and other participants of this website I believe trying to stay on topic is in our best interest. Otherwise, we are just spinning our wheels (so to speak).

    Reply
  140. Luke says:

    Speaking of the topic, I posted this earlier, but I think it got missed with everything else that was going on.

    Is astrology science?

    It draws on scientific theories (astronomy and astrology were really inseparable for quite a long time) and it presents falsifiable descriptions and predictions about our world.

    By the criteria proposed here, is it pseudoscience or science?

    (Wikipedia says it’s the former.)

    Thanks in advance,

    Luke

    Reply
  141. Nathan barley says:

    Luke, I seem to remember in the Dover trial, after Behe claimed that ID was science, he was forced to admit that by his definition of the word, astrology would also qualify as science.

    Reply
  142. John Ferrer says:

    Luke,

    You are doing well to point out another classic illustration of the Demarcation problem: Astrology. It was once indistinguishable from astronomy, and only through time and experimentation was it progressively distinguished. But we might say it is pseudo-scientific in that it makes testable claims. However since it makes narrow enough claims to be testable–and those are uniformly discredited in science–and it makes untestable claims that do not qualify for any kind of “scientific” status, it does not qualify as “science.”

    ID has some relation to it, conceptually, in that it makes testable claims. This relation proves little either way, since ALL science and pseudo-science share SOME features of science. But astrology is demonstrably invalidated by, for example, showing that Libra’s are NOT any more likely to show the astrologically predicted features as any other sign are. ID however makes testable predictions that, for the most part, are not being addressed or invalidated scientifically but instead are dismissed out of hand as “magic” and a “non-starter.” Those kinds of accusations would be fitting it the claims themselves have been scientifically discredited by contraindicatory results. but lacking scientific experimentation such accusations sounds more like presumption than demonstration.

    Reply
  143. Dan says:

    What sort of testable predictions does ID make? irreducible complexity? isn’t this really just a challenge of evolution that has been debunked?

    Reply
  144. Tim D. says:

    Romans 10:17 – So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. – In other words, when the individual is open to the idea of faith they hear the wisdom of God and it can be recieved.

    ….he answers “how do you know that without reading the Bible” with a Bible quote….

    Yes, that appendix serves a purpose at some point; I just couldn’t tell you what.

    Correction: it did probably serve a purpose at one time. However, since then it seems to be evolving away since its purpose is no longer necessary (or even apparent).

    Nathan, I am not saying that quotes from the Bible aren’t that important. What I am trying to explain is that; sure, you can read it, you know what the words mean and anyone can dissect and analyze the Scripture. The thing is; doing this alone makes it impersonal. If it is not personal then one may find it overwhelmingly difficult to understand the Bible’s true significance and meaning.

    Again, missing the point….I don’t feel like explaining (again) how circular this all is so I’ll raise my other point:

    According to our earlier discussion, you seem to think it’s still basically impossible to “understand” the Bible. At one point I do believe you admitted that the Bible can be logically torn apart and therefore makes no literal sense. This is part of why Christians are not taken seriously today, except by other Christians — because they not only defy common reason but embrace irrationality, madness and desire. It’s like saying that I’m a biology expert, not “even though” I have never read a biology textbook proper, but because I have never read a biology textbook proper. It’s like saying, “enlightenment comes from nonsense.” And that, my friend, is nonsense.

    I challenge you to present your best evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ and I will prove that you have no evidence.

    PLEASE no! I don’t want to see the same 15807892345 Bible quotes that “prove that Jesus existed” again….it’s like watching someone try to prove that Johan Liebert exists by pointing to the scenes in which he features in Monster.

    So, can ID be classified as science? I am thinking science can be used within ID theory, at least.

    Theoretically, I’d say it could be. But as it stands, nobody in the field of “Intelligent Design” or Creationism has yet proposed any theory which could be called “scientific.” It’s all just Biblical creation myths under a thin white sheet; it’s obvious to anyone who has ever read a Bible that ID is just a half-baked attempt to reclassify a creation myth as “scientific,” after Christians have spent the last few milennia insisting that “Christianity defies science and logic.” Now that scientific reasoning has taken hold and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon, suddenly powerful Christians the world over have probably started thinking that maybe the movement has shot itself in the foot by insisting that Christianity is not scientific. Now, as it has done many times before, Christianity must once again silently evolve in order to stay relevant to modern times, all the while insisting upon its own “timelessness” and “objective, unchanging nature.”

    ID however makes testable predictions that, for the most part, are not being addressed or invalidated scientifically but instead are dismissed out of hand as “magic” and a “non-starter.”

    I’m a bit intrigued by this comment, Mr. John. What kind of experiment, in your mind, could we conduct that would offer evidence for or against Intelligent Design as a scientific theory? Keeping the 2nd law of thermodynamics in mind (energy has always existed), what can you (or anyone else) propose scientifically which can only be explained by Intelligent Design, and which can be studied and experimented with conclusively? Not to a matter of likelihood over existing theories, of course, but to at least as satisfactory of a degree as something like, say, evolution.

    Reply
  145. Charles says:

    -Again, missing the point….I don’t feel like explaining (again) how circular this all is so I’ll raise my other point:

    – It’s like saying, “enlightenment comes from nonsense.” And that, my friend, is nonsense.

    I am afraid I don’t understand what is circular about this. Is it because I answer your questions with Scripture? If so, let me apologize. It just so happens to be the way I think now that I am under a different viewpoint of the world.

    Yes, I heard about Christianity while growing up but never understood it. While in college I even tried to discredit it myself; not that I was Athiest, but more of an Agnostic. So I know, exactly, where you are coming from; but it is just like I said; it became personal.

    Unlike so many who simply read Scripture; I decided to be more optimistic in my approach to Biblical study. Instead of finding ways to validate it or discredit it I decided to search its wisdom in an effort to find out who this God is and that is what made it personal. I asked Him. I didn’t ask the local preacher or any Christian people I knew (not many BTW). I am not saying that witnessing and testimony aren’t effective means for getting the Word out but; like you were asking, I didn’t need another person. If you want to know something from someone you ask them, and as silly as it sounds, that is what I did.

    Now, back to the topic:

    What about the human brain? I am curious as to what your take on our intelligence is. As I understand it; the human brain is the most complex organism ever studied. Is this correct? If it isn’t I’d like to know what is and how it “evolved”. In the case that it is; then I also would like to know how intelligence “evolves”.

    Is there any scientific explanation for the earth and human flesh to be so closely related in terms of composition (both being about 70% water and how flesh reverts back into soil when it is dead)?

    These are questions that I believe can be proven by science and also have a theistic reason for existence.

    Reply
  146. Tim D. says:

    Yes, I heard about Christianity while growing up but never understood it. While in college I even tried to discredit it myself; not that I was Athiest, but more of an Agnostic. So I know, exactly, where you are coming from; but it is just like I said; it became personal.

    This is exactly why Christianity is not unique; if something requires this approach in order to “make sense,” then it is nonsense. Because this approach can be used to make anything, no matter how blatantly nonsensical, make sense.

    I can decide to “have faith” in *any* religion, if I am so inclined, and it will be the exact same kind of faith — faith in defiance of reason, taking it “personally,” faith in some magic deity or another. Or I could decide to have “faith” in any other religious deity ever invented, or in any fictional novel ever written, or in any fable ever scrawled by anyone who ever existed. This is not an approach that is unique to Christianity.

    Unlike so many who simply read Scripture; I decided to be more optimistic in my approach to Biblical study. Instead of finding ways to validate it or discredit it I decided to search its wisdom in an effort to find out who this God is and that is what made it personal.

    Exactly — you injected a personal bias, a desire to see a certain result. And everything else comes outward from that. This can be done with anything, not just Christianity.

    like you were asking, I didn’t need another person. If you want to know something from someone you ask them, and as silly as it sounds, that is what I did.

    Yet you still required the Bible to do this, which was written by another person. So yes, you did need “another person,” a third party, to facilitate and interpret this “personal relationship” with a deity.

    What about the human brain? I am curious as to what your take on our intelligence is. As I understand it; the human brain is the most complex organism ever studied. Is this correct? If it isn’t I’d like to know what is and how it “evolved”. In the case that it is; then I also would like to know how intelligence “evolves”.

    If you want the answers, go look for them. I’m not going to spoon-feed you a history of human evolution. You expect knowledge fed to you on a silver platter, knowledge of the like that has been pursued actively by scientists and philosophers for generations. I have neither the time nor the interest in formally educating you on the subject.

    Is there any scientific explanation for the earth and human flesh to be so closely related in terms of composition (both being about 70% water and how flesh reverts back into soil when it is dead)?

    I don’t see how there needs to be. For one, the “similarity” itself is a metaphor (we don’t “turn into soil” when we die, we are gradually decomposed by microorganisms and reintroduced into the ecosystem in many possible forms; this is oversimplification at best); secondly, just because you can metaphorically connect two things doesn’t necessitate that there is some sort of overarching scientific connection — paper is white, a lot of humans are white, paper is made from trees, there! I’ve made up another arbitrary connection between humans and their environment, so it must be important. Or maybe, the sun emits light, when you learn something good you “see the light,” therefore the sun is the scientific source of goodness in the universe!

    …using this method, we can pretty much make up whatever “truth” we want about the universe, or about humanity.

    These are questions that I believe can be proven by science and also have a theistic reason for existence.

    I don’t see how any of that is in any way theistic.

    Reply
  147. Luke says:

    John,

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that you’re saying that astrology is indeed science, it’s just been shown to be incorrect.

    In other words, astrology is science, just bad science.

    Is that a fair reading of what you said?

    Nathan said:I seem to remember in the Dover trial, after Behe claimed that ID was science, he was forced to admit that by his definition of the word, astrology would also qualify as science.

    I guess my question wasn’t as silly as I thought it might be. It just seems right to me, that given this set of criteria, it is indeed science.

    If I did read John correctly, we can make three categories:

    Good Science
    Bad Science
    Not science

    What falls in the Not Science category in this case (of things which claim to be science)? In other words, what claims to be science, but we reject the claim?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  148. Toby R. says:

    “Unlike so many who simply read Scripture; I decided to be more optimistic in my approach to Biblical study. Instead of finding ways to validate it or discredit it I decided to search its wisdom in an effort to find out who this God is and that is what made it personal.”

    So what did you find? I might point out that if I decided to read a book in this way I might well unquestionably believe that Norman Bates existed and there were deeper meanings to be found in Psycho.

    John or Frank: Can you tell us about experiments currently being undertaken by ID advocates that might disprove their hypothesis? I’m thinking of something on the magnitude of the Richard Lenski experiment detailed in Dawkin’s most recent book The Greatest Show On Earth. 20 years of controlled experiments. If ID believers want to put their money where their mouth is they’ll set up an experiment such as Lenski’s and put stressors into the environment of the bacteria being cultured. Indigestible sugars, temperatures that the bacteria don’t grow in well, different pH’s, a test designed in such a way that nonmotile bacteria will survive if they are able to evolve motility, exposure to antibiotics at such a level that won’t entirely kill the culture and allow for the possibility of future generations to mutate into resistant strains.

    Show us experiments like this out there that are currently being conducted in the name of ID and keep us updated on them (and make damn sure these are reputable people performing these experiments under the highest of control). Otherwise, admit that ID is just a creationist idea and pipe the heck down.

    Reply
  149. John Ferrer says:

    Luke,

    No, astrology is not science but it could have been if its testible claims were validated through experimentation.

    Be aware the definition of “science” is a very sophisticated problem in philosophy called the “demarcation problem.” There are real difficulties in narrowly defining science at all–much less in light of the difficult issues of metaphysics, parapsychology, religion, intelligent design, etc. Sure one is entitiled to SAY that these aren’t science, but it is much harder to ARGUE that these aren’t science without accidentally dismissing some known field of science.

    Typically, astrology is a classic example of pseudoscience. Parapsychology likewise offers testible claims which have shown a very low level of verification and the debate in the science world is over whether that qualifies it as “science” or if there is more work to be done to dignify it as a scientific study. Furthermore, parapsychology raises the question of whether unknown causes which are nonetheless verified implicitly by demonstrated effects can qualify as scientific. Usually this just raises the issue of whether one must presuppose the known natural causes are the only possible causes.

    Pseudo-science is a different category from science, from religion, etc. And then there’s science as an adjective “scientific,” which can be widely applied without having to call that thing “science.” for example, a “scientific argument” is not “science” so much as it is about science or faithful to science.

    Reply
  150. Luke says:

    John, let me quickly start of by saying that I have no dogmatic position regarding ID’s classification as science. I also realize that science can be difficult to define around the edges.

    That said, I am skeptical of the criteria you just presented (which is a different thing than “you’re wrong” or even “I think you’re wrong”).

    Here is why:

    You said:No, astrology is not science but it could have been if its testable claims were validated through experimentation.

    By this logic Newtonian Gravity is not science, because it consistently predicts the wrong things (this is part of what Einstein achieved; his equations got the right answers in places that Newton it got wrong).

    Sure, Newton was right more often than astrology is, but if that’s the demarcation, then how many things is “science” allowed to get wrong and remain science?

    As long as 93% of your predictions are correct, then you’re in the science club, but if it’s 92.8% then you’re just a pseudo.

    I’m sure you see the problem with this.

    Look at Einstein again for example, he was completely wrong (it seems) about the nature of the universe.

    You can even go to wikipedia and type “Einstein’s Universe” — you’ll be redirected, but the point is he is strongly associated with a model of cosmology that was completely wrong.

    So by your rubric of science which gets the wrong predictions entering the category of pseudo-science, then Einstein was a part time scientist and part time pseudo-scientist.

    Would you agree with that statement?

    I would not, which is why I have difficulty with your demarcation.

    I find it much more comfortable to say that Einstein, in coming up with that model of cosmology was very much practicing science, he just turned out wrong.

    It’s an interesting discussion; let me know what you think.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  151. Charles says:

    I’m not asking to be spoon-fed anything. I was asking what the humanist view was so I would understand. I’ll be more than happy to research my questions myself.

    Reply
  152. Tim D. says:

    I’m not asking to be spoon-fed anything. I was asking what the humanist view was so I would understand. I’ll be more than happy to research my questions myself.

    That’s a non-sequitur question. Humanism is not just a replacement for dogma and religion with its own set of credentials and whatnot; it’s a different kind of worldview entirely. Even if I were to give you *my* personal feelings or opinions about scientific matters, humanism is strictly a moral commitment. Who created (or didn’t create) the universe, or how it became what it is today, or how we evolved the way we did….many humanists don’t even agree on that. There is no central scientific dogma that all humanists agree upon; so even if I gave you, say, the most widely-accepted scientific explanation, that would not be a reflection of “the humanist view,” because there may well be a significant number of humanists who do not agree with that explanation, or who simply don’t know or don’t care. There is no scientific criteria one is forced to accept in order to adopt the title of “humanist.” The only “requirement” is that one believe in working to reduce unnecessary suffering from the lives of all humans. Notice how it’s not called “Scientism” or “Naturalism?”

    Reply
  153. Dan says:

    Charles-

    I am a Christian and I do not reject the theory ofevolution. To reject it, i would have to make that decision based on a biased viewpoint. It makes too much sense and there is way to much evidence that supports evolutionary theory, and the only evidence against it is seemingly a few lines in scripture. The only people that reject it are people who do not understand it or do not want to understand it. You can convince yourself the sky is whatever color you want if you don’t raise your head to view it.

    Reply
  154. Charles says:

    Tim, thank you. That was important because now I understand more of your point of view.

    I have read of and and seen footage of Quantum physicists having expressed this problem of measurement. If true, this opens the doors to many possibilities with regards to metaphysics. However there seems to be some that discredit metaphysics as science. If Einstein was wrong and quantum theory is discredited then aren’t all sciences just creating rhetoric that discredit themselves eventually? I have even read reports of some scientists even discrediting gravity.

    Reply
  155. Charles says:

    Dan, I also, am not so narrow minded as to rule out what I don’t understand. I am not going to fear the unknown, so I do question human intelligence and as Scripture gives me peace through the journey of knowledge then I will defend it. More than trying to discredit Atheists I seek to understand the POV in an effort to work together without contention and unhealthy biases.

    Reply
  156. Nathan Barley says:

    “If Einstein was wrong and quantum theory is discredited then aren’t all sciences just creating rhetoric that discredit themselves eventually?”

    I read this morning that quantum theory has more evidence to support it than virtually anything else in science.

    “I have even read reports of some scientists even discrediting gravity.”

    Discrediting gravity doesn’t necessarily mean arguing that things don’t fall. Einstein discredited Newton’s theories about gravity. Apples didn’t hang suspended in the meantimes.

    Reply
  157. Dan says:

    Charles- read a book on anthropology to give you a good point of view. You’ll find that most of the stuff that people disagree with is simply because it goes against sunday school classes. I wouldn’t suggest reading books like Frank Turek’s ” I don’t have enough faith to be an athiest” when trying to get an understanding of such things, because he delivers a terribly biased view of evolutionary theory.

    Reply
  158. Charles says:

    Dan, thank you for the insight and as for as Frank’s book, I’ve already read it.

    Nathan, so in light of quantum theory, it is feasible to assume that the study of metaphysics has the potential to support ID.

    Reply
  159. Ed says:

    John Ferrer: ID does not necessarily deserve credit or acceptance, but if satisfies the criteria for admission into scientific consideration then one cannot in good-intellectual-honesty dismiss it out of hand and still claim to be science minded.

    Response: Science is defined as follows:
    1. It is guided by natural law;
    2. It has to be explained by reference to natural law;
    3. It is testable against the empirical world;
    4. It’s conclusions are tentative, that is, are not necessarily the final word;
    5. It is falsifiable.

    Intelligent Design Magic is testable, tentative and falsifiable. As I have demonstrated below the claims of primary design “theorists” William Dembski and Michael Behe have been thoroughly refuted and in some cases falsified. So ID Magic wasn’t dismissed “out of hand” it was thoroughly debunked and proved in a court of law beyond any doubt whatsoever to be a Christian religious hoax.

    John Ferrer: First, ID employs a theory drawn from science, namely, information theory (see, Dembski’s The Design Inference)–information theory is a staple in SETI, Forensics, Archeology, Cryptology, Anthropology, etc.

    Response: First of all William Dembski is a young earth creationist disguised as a mathematician. So “Information Theory” is just another poorly thought out Christian religious hoax. “Information Theory” is NOT drawn on science at all. William Dembski claims that: “Chance and law working in tandem cannot generate information.” He calls this the “law of Conservation of Information.” This “law” was easily disproved by showing that the quantitative definition of information as used by Dembski is equivalent to negative entropy. The connection between information and entropy was shown in “A mathematical Theory of Communication,” Bell System Technical Journal 27 in July 1948. So Dembski’s “theory” was debunked about seven decades before he even dreamed it up. Now that’s hilarious!

    John Ferrer: Second, the problem with ID is not whether information theory is scientific, but whether astronomy, biology and chemistry are valid fields of applying information theory. Properly casting the nature of this debate is key to understanding the lines of argumentation. Those rebuking ID for elaborating “information theory” should instead focus their argument on the illegitimacy of applying information theory to fields like astronomy, biology and chemistry.

    Response: We aren’t applying ID magic to anything but theology because that’s all it is.

    John Ferrer: Third, ID does achieve claims that are, at least on a low level, falsifiable. For example, the Bacterial flagellum may be irreducibly complex if no more basic alternative-use formulations such as a (Type III secretory system [syringe type rod]) can be found which are constitutionally older than the flagellum. Applying ID theory to the flagellum renders a testable prediction, namely the falsifiable theory that if the flagellum is irreducibly complex then there will never be discovered a simpler same-function form nor an older a lternative-function form.

    Response: Nonsense. The bacterial flagellum is not even irreducible. Some bacterial flagella function without the L- and P-rings. Scientists have thoroughly refuted Behe’s irreducible complexity argument by listing many examples in nature where an organic system changes functions as the system evolves.

    John Ferrer: Fourth, neither naturalism nor materialism has been, historically, a necessary precondition for doing science, given the preponderance of religious scientists throughout history. It may be argued, weakly, that if one allows for supernatural causes one is discouraged or distracted from the hard task of finding natural, reliable, or material causes for natural phenomenon.

    Response: Why is that a weak argument John? Just saying it’s weak proves nothing. Demonstrate the weakness of the argument.

    John Ferrer: While that possibility makes sense, it has not been the reality. Despite there being many non-theists (ie: no kind of God-belief) in the sciences, there are still a host of theists who have little trouble employing a methodological naturalism for much of their work while suspending that assumption where it might bias the data (such as, dismissing evidence for a miracle claim simply because naturalism demands dismissing all miracle claims).

    Response: Science is only neutral on the subject of God because so far there is no evidence for anything supernatural. John’s argument fails because science is not forbidden from considering supernatural causes. Why would scientists object to the notion of supernatural phenomena should the data warrant that they deserve to be studied? Most scientists would be thrilled to open a new field of study for which they would surely receive generous funding, especially in this country.

    John Ferrer: Stephen Jay Gould’s Non-overlapping Magisterium is a nice theory to safely quarantine religion and science from effecting each other, but both make metaphysical claims on history, humanity, and the natural world.

    Response: What metaphysical claims does science make exactly? Had religion always been kept from affecting science we would have cured cancer, heart disease and been on the moon about 1500 years ago. Religion is the enemy of science and social progress. It always has been and it always will be. They will always offer competing ideas about the way things are.

    John Ferrer: Fifth, ID does bear fruit in further predictions and study. We can, for example, study and apply irreducible complexity theory anywhere in biology to see where it fits and where it does not.

    Response: “Irreducible complexity suggests a lack of design. For critical applications, such as keeping an organism alive, you do not want systems that will fail if any one part fails. You want systems that are robust.” (Steele 2000). Irreducible complexity is claimed to indicate that certain systems could not have evolved gradually. However, jumping from there to the conclusion that those systems were designed is an argument from incredulity. There is nothing about irreducibly complex systems that is positive evidence for design.

    John Ferrer: At minimum, such applications of ID force evolutionary alternatives to mount a more comprehensive/compelling set of unintelligent mechanisms since the known unintelligent mechanisms fail pretty badly on many cases.

    Response: Oh sure. Anyone who thinks scientists are on the defensive because of the hoax of ID Magic is truly delusional. Creationist propaganda has zero affect on the way science is done.

    Reply
  160. Ed says:

    John Ferrer: Pure evolutionary theory, for example, has the difficulty of explaining the reality of “true belief” given the non-intelligent mechanical causes of newtonian forces as it’s only physical forces, or, natural selection and genetic variations as it’s overriding biological forces. Sure one can appeal to conceptual models and thought experiments to argue for an evolutionary answer to this problem Plantinga calls “the Evolutionary Argument Against naturalism,” but that effort is bound to circularity, begging the question, since naturalistic answers ostensibly presuppose that intelligence arises from non-intelligence though that is precisely the premise needing defense.

    Response: This argument fails because religions themselves evolve and evolution has no problem explaining belief systems.

    John Ferrer: For another example, ID predicts that the more irreducibly complex and higher specified complexity of something, the less capable we will be at demonstrating a viable evolutionary account.

    Response: Another failed prediction of ID Magic.

    John Ferrer: By testing evolutionary mechanisms against a given object–such as the Giraffe’s neck or the woodpecker’s tongue–we can see, according to the prediction, whether the known mechanisms of evolution easily explain it or not.

    Response: Evolution easily explains the Giraffe’s neck and the woodpecker’s tongue. ID claims these things just popped into existence by magic.

    John Ferrer: If the Giraffe’s neck, which supposedly is irreducibly complex, then there would be no immediate and demonstrable explanation from naturalism for its appearance. If the Giraffe’s neck is slightly or greatly complex, and irreducible in either case, then evolutionary theory will have an easier or harder time, respectively, providing a viable account from natural causes that does not betray the kind of incrementalism espoused by Darwin nor, if one is okay with being in the scientific minority, the punctuated equilibrium espoused later.

    Response: Darwin answered this claim in 1868 (206).

    John Ferrer: Remember though, that both sets of theories have their own burden of proof whereby they ought to exceed the (low) test of “explanatory” sufficiency and reach some kind of testibility.

    Response: Theories don’t have a burden of proof they have to be useful. ID Magic is useless and explains absolutely nothing.

    John Ferrer: Still a third example of how ID is fruitful with testable predictions, ID predicts that high-information content within organisms can devolve, but does not greatly evolve.

    Response: The word “devolve” is creationist mumbo jargon as I think Nathan already pointed out in a previous post.

    John Ferrer: Hence, we can subject microrganisms to generations of forced mutations to see if any give rise to sustainable gains in specified complexity.

    Response: “It is hard to understand how anyone could make this claim, since anything mutations can do, mutations can undo. Some mutations add information to a genome; some subtract it. Creationists get by with this claim only by leaving the term “information” undefined, impossibly vague, or constantly shifting. By any reasonable definition, increases in information have been observed to evolve. We have observed the evolution of
    · increased genetic variety in a population (Lenski 1995; Lenski et al. 1991)
    · increased genetic material (Alves et al. 2001; Brown et al. 1998; Hughes and Friedman 2003; Lynch and Conery 2000; Ohta 2003)
    · novel genetic material (Knox et al. 1996; Park et al. 1996)
    · novel genetically-regulated abilities (Prijambada et al. 1995)

    If these do not qualify as information, then nothing about information is relevant to evolution in the first place.” – Edited by Mark Isaak

    John Ferrer: Fourth, ID presents tremendous applications for the search for extra-terrestrials (ie: non-human intelligences), and reapplication of information theory in forensics, cryptology, computer programming, Artificial Ingelligence, and archeology.

    Response: What a bunch of garbage! Please tell us all how ID Magic presents tremendous applications for the search for extra-terrestrials that is somehow superior to astronomy and space travel. If and when we do find extra-terrestrials that will be the final nail in the coffin of Christianity for sure.

    John Ferrer: Fifth, and implied above, ID also presents a valuable frame of reference for critiquing the monopoly of evolutionary theory (such that many evolutionists are not aware of any explanatory gaps or weaknesses within evolutionary theory). And what is science if not a free-exchange of alternative theories and findings achieving the market-capitalism of ideas whereby poorly framed hypotheses can be honed and improved, or ground down into oblivion.

    Response: ID Magic has been thoroughly ground down to oblivion. Let us know when you have convinced Baylor, TCU, Notre Dame, SMU, Brigham Young, Lehigh or some other Christian college or university to stop teaching evolutionary theory and replace it with Intelligent Design Magic. Before you try to sell this obvious hoax to atheists and the American public you should first explain to us all why you can’t sell it to your own CHRISTIAN academic community. That isn’t going to happen and we all know why too don’t we? So give it up dude or sell it to someone who matters.

    John Ferrer: Sixth, it is not very scientific to put faith in evolutionary theory to IN THE FUTURE resolve present ignorance. Evolution-of-the-gaps is no less dogmatic and faith based than is God of the gaps.

    Response: What exactly are the gaps in evolutionary theory John?

    John Ferrer: And frankly, a great deal of force behind the rejection of ID is fueled by faith in evolutionary theory to explain aspects of nature that are yet unknown.

    Response: The rejection of ID Magic is based on the fact that it is a failed hypothesis and a religious hoax. One doesn’t have to have faith in evolution to explain things. It can and it does. Theists just don’t like these explanations.

    John: Though evolution, according to typical evolutionists, has been well verified on many accounts, scientists pride themselves on respecting no authorities and refraining from all faith or dogma in place of their science. Where evolution has not been DEMONSTRATED to explain a certain phenomenon it remains a theory, or, at best a hypothesis.
    Response: The word theory, in the context of science, does not imply uncertainty. It means “a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena” (Barnhart 1948). Anyone who says evolution is “just a theory” is exposing his or her scientific imbecility.

    John Ferrer: Ninth, whatever else “science” means, there would seem to be something inherently unscientific about disqualifying what may be true and treat any related questions as uninteresting since they are not bound by naturalism. Science should not be too proud to investigate the mating habits of insects nor the possibility of a non-human intelligence.

    Response: Science does investigate both of these things. I don’t know why I should expect a Bible believer to know what science is up to these days.

    John Ferrer: Eleventh, it is a genetic fallacy and a fallacy of association to fault ID for having young-earthers, religious people (who are presumed “biased”), or otherwise unliked characters among its members.

    Response: It would be a fallacy if every ID Magic proponent other than Moonie Jonathan Wells weren’t a Bible believer. Name one ID “theorist” who does not believe the Garden of Eden story is literal history and you might have a case. But you can’t and so you don’t.

    John Ferrer: We should remember that early chemists are largely indistinguishable from alchemists–yet we would not want to dismiss their work as “unscientific” just because they were still dabbling in pseudoscience. We would not want to morally fault science for its association among Nazi experimenters in WWII.

    Response: The Nazi experimenters were not using science but religious based pseudo science. Remember the Nazis vigorously rejected evolutionary theory in favor of Christian creationism.

    John Ferrer: Abuse does not bar use. And if ID is abused or genetically tainted by some of its practitioners we still have the theory itself to deal with lest we mistakenly burn the message because of the messenger.

    Response: Okay tell us what Intelligent Design Magic is going to be used for exactly. Where are all the new medicines and vaccines, the new and better food crops and better poisons to protect these crops a competing theory with evolution should be able to produce? There aren’t going to be any because like you said ID magic is merely a message. It’s not a viable science that will ever produce anything more than religious propaganda.

    John Ferrer: Conversely, we cannot rightly fault the findings of atheistic humanists in science because they, perhaps, have an anti-theological bias or might be “swayed” by their irreligion or humanism or atheism. Biased people can still do good science provided there’s is not an overriding bias.

    Response: John’s article demonstrates that religiously biased people have absolutely no grasp of science, what science is, what science does or even why it exists in the first place.

    John Ferrer: In conclusion, a compelling case can be made that ID is indeed science and therefore it deserves a hearing among science minded people.

    Response: ID Magic already got it’s hearing and it failed miserably to make its case. Therefore we have no choice but to issue Intelligent Design Magic its well deserved death sentence. Case closed.

    Reply
  161. Toby R. says:

    I’d still like to know about credible experiments being conducted by ID supporters if anyone has any info? If there are no ID supporters out there doing research experiments then ID is nothing but theological philosophy.

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  162. Charles says:

    Maybe there needs to be a quest for 100% infallible, irrefutable methods of study and research before anyone should delve into scientific study of any kind, ID or naturalistic.

    Ed, you manage to discredit everyone in your own mind, but questions still rise. I do agree with others; you are a very strong writer and almost convincing. (key word – almost)

    One thing I am grateful for is the fact that all this is causing me to dig deeper.

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  163. Nathan barley says:

    “Maybe there needs to be a quest for 100% infallible, irrefutable methods of study and research before anyone should delve into scientific study of any kind, ID or naturalistic.”

    You’d still need to use the scientific method to test this new method. And if you refrained from any study in the meantime then we wouldn’t get very far. We’ve done pretty well out of the scientific method it enables me to have this conversation with you from a different continent.

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  164. Dan says:

    Charles- I’d say that Ed does a good job outside of just his own mind. Comments on this section should be closed after the 2 posts above by Ed. Case closed, Ed wins.

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  165. Toby R. says:

    “Parapsychology likewise offers testible claims which have shown a very low level of verification and the debate in the science world is over whether that qualifies it as “science” or if there is more work to be done to dignify it as a scientific study. Furthermore, parapsychology raises the question of whether unknown causes which are nonetheless verified implicitly by demonstrated effects can qualify as scientific.”

    Parapsychology? Are you kidding? Aside from spoon bending and telekinesis do you really think this is a good argument from a christian theist? If reincarnation is true then all of your christian theology is bogus. How does a christian square the idea of ghosts with their belief in the bible?

    “Usually this just raises the issue of whether one must presuppose the known natural causes are the only possible causes.”

    You said it yourself quite well, “known natural causes”. There might well be scores of unknown natural causes to who knows what that we don’t yet know about.

    A good question you might ask yourself is why you assume that in a natural universe there can be anything that happens that isn’t a natural part of that universe. To imply otherwise, to imply the supernatural, means to you’ve violated that general rule of Occam’s razor that’s been mentioned here before. It’s also means that you have knowledge of the supernatural even though you probably have not experienced it.

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  166. John Ferrer says:

    Toby, you misread me. I hate parapsychology and my whole worldview would cohere better if there were not scientific testing whatsoever in its favor. But, I’d be begging the question to ignore evidence contrary to my theistic worldview. Look into it and you’ll see. If you are truly a free-thinker, and you are not a dogmatic antitheist you will see that there is at least a low-level of demonstrated parapsychological activity. But I reiterate, I wish it weren’t. I despise all forms of occultism, and am highly skeptical of most every pretender to “miracles” or supernormal activity like spoon bending, table lifting, and out-of-body experiences. Read “The conscious universe” by Dr. Dean Radin (PhD). Don’t take my word for it, but don’t dismiss my word either just because you are ignorant of the studies that have been done.

    By the way, I fail to see your seeming identification of “spoon bending and telekinesis” with “reincarnation.” I don’t believe in any of those, I’m just confused at how you are relating them.

    About your last question, I’m not assuming the premise you stated. So your question commits the fallacy of “complex question.”

    Occam’s razor cuts both ways. Which is the more simple and reasonable explanation for 1,000 Encyclopedia volumes worth of intricately coded, self-reading, information–mechanical causes or intelligent causes? We would take “intelligent causes” for granted if we were literally inside a library looking at “World Books”, but for some reason this rational, analogical inference, that is about as old as natural science itself, is treated like utter lunacy when we ask how such a monstrously ornate amount of information could arise in the human genome by natural causes without the help of an intelligence. Occam’s razor seems to lean towards a simple direct cause of genetic information (ie: a sufficiently intelligent cause) rather than a Rube-goldberg-like evolution of hundreds of thousands of unguided and accidental mutations filtered across an uncaring and unintentional universe that is red in tooth and claw. The simpler explanation is that information comes from minds. The less simple explanation which abundantly multiplies causes is that information comes from natural selection.

    I’m sensing that we may need to hash out some of our definitions of “supernature.” I still feel like any suggestion of “supernatural” is here being interpreted as some retreat from a rationally ordered, non-causal type of realm where magic and hocus pocus rob us of any reasonable inferences or knowledge. I’m not sure we are using “supernatural” in the same way. Perhaps we have an ambiguous sense of “nature” too.

    Toby, you committed a couple other fallacies, wishful thinking and Appeal to the future, when you said, “There might well be scores of unknown natural causes to who knows what that we don’t yet know about.”–One can simply reply, with logically equivalent argumentative force, “There might well be a supernatural cause that we don’t know about yet.” “Might” is a long way from, “is” or “probably.” Blind appeals to future amount to wishful thinking and prove only that you are hopeful or that you can guess about things.

    Your point is well taken though. It’s possible that there are unknown natural causes, but it’s just as possible that there are no relevant natural causes for this discussion that will be unearthed in the future. Let us suppose there are unknown yet significant natural causes that have not yet been discovered, the naturalist is still left proposing that vast amounts of complex information can arise naturally–through unknown mechanical causes–to avoid having to say that vast amounts of complex information can arise supernaturally–through KNOWN intelligent causes. The comparison is between known causal forces (information theory) and unknown causal forces. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, especially if those supposed “birds in the bush” might never actually exist.

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  167. Nathan barley says:

    John, if the paranormal is demonstrable then it’s the first I’ve heard of it. Anyone who can show the existence of the paranormal should attempt to claim the million dollar prize from the James Randi Foundation.

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  168. Tim D. says:

    Occam’s razor cuts both ways. Which is the more simple and reasonable explanation for 1,000 Encyclopedia volumes worth of intricately coded, self-reading, information–mechanical causes or intelligent causes? We would take “intelligent causes” for granted if we were literally inside a library looking at “World Books”, but for some reason this rational, analogical inference, that is about as old as natural science itself, is treated like utter lunacy when we ask how such a monstrously ornate amount of information could arise in the human genome by natural causes without the help of an intelligence.

    Simply put….there are no natural systems of selection which would allow for the natural, slow, generational development of a “book” without a deliberate interference from someone who wished to produce it. Words, unlike genes, do not reproduce (and therefore do not “shuffle” and drift themselves about, as genes do through reproduction), and so it would be ridiculous to say that a book came about “naturally” as in, without intelligent interference.

    Genetic information, however, does have a means by which to come to existence across generations, and this is demonstrable with simple life in lab cultures (and thus, has been demonstrated). This is demonstrable, universally-accepted truth in the scientific community, and if you’re holding out for the day that this will be proven “wrong,” you might as well also wait for the day when it’s proved that the sun is not actually the center of the galaxy, or that gravity is actually angels holding us down. It is as true as almost anything ever could be in science.

    Occam’s razor seems to lean towards a simple direct cause of genetic information (ie: a sufficiently intelligent cause) rather than a Rube-goldberg-like evolution of hundreds of thousands of unguided and accidental mutations filtered across an uncaring and unintentional universe that is red in tooth and claw. The simpler explanation is that information comes from minds. The less simple explanation which abundantly multiplies causes is that information comes from natural selection.

    Except, in this case, there is a precedent on which to suppose that evolution occurs; it (and all of its components) can be (and have been) directly observed. There is no such precedent on which to suppose that a book was formed “naturally” from a non-intelligent source. Likewise, there is no such precedence for the idea that such an intelligence could exist that created DNA in the first place. Yes, if there WAS such an intelligence (and if this were demonstrable), then it may well be capable of creating such information….but that is one of many reasons why ID is not scientific at all, is that it makes this assumption out of nowhere. There is no scientific precedent to indicate that something could exist in such a way as to “intelligently design” DNA or even simple life. What experiment has proven this to be possible? None. Not one.

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  169. Nathan barley says:

    Has anyone ever come up with an experiment to determine design, or to determine irreducible complexity? I don’t think so.

    The book analogy is no better than saying “when we see an animal we assume it came about through sexual reproduction, so we should therefore make the same assumption when we see an iPod.

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  170. Ed says:

    Don’t you love it when you totally destroy a Christian’s position and they just keep on babbling as if no objections had been raised at all. I mean stick a fork in ID Magic, it’s done. How come every species this “intelligent designer” makes eventually goes extinct? What kind of intelligent design is that? There are many flaws in humans that a competent engineer could improve upon what nature has given us. So why are we humans smarter than our supposed designer? Evolution predicts that John will once again ignore the criticisms, no the total refutation of his claims.

    Reply
  171. Toby R. says:

    By the way, I fail to see your seeming identification of “spoon bending and telekinesis” with “reincarnation.” I don’t believe in any of those, I’m just confused at how you are relating them.

    These things have been studied by people in the parapsychology area. I find it hard to believe that we can’t just dismiss the things studied by parapsychology simply because of the fiscal conservative’s stance of greed. If dowsing wells of water or oil actually worked, then oil companies would have been exploiting this all along. If people really could change the way a computer generated numbers with just their mind, then we’d all be typing with our minds because Bill Gates and Steve Jobs would have exploited this. I’m sure this a fallacy of something or other, but if these things like psychic abilities worked then we would have found a way to exploit them by now. Not to mention that these things seem to apply only to humans. Why do we not observe deer that psychically know when a gun is pointed at them and hence fail to be shot?

    Reply
  172. Frank Turek says:

    Are you guys back on ID now?

    I haven’t been able to keep up with all the posts, but you seemed to have arrived at the idea that if something ultimately breaks down– or one could conceive of a more durable design– then the object in question was not designed.

    That is false. My car breaks down, but it certainly was designed.

    The Christian worldview admits that this is a fallen world that will ultimately break down. That does not mean it or the creatures inside it were not designed. Moreover, one cannot say a given design is not optimal unless one knows the intent of the designer. My laptop is not optimal to run the U.S. Military’s Defense systems, but it is well designed to take on the road and show powerpoint presentations. I can’t fault Apple for not making it good for the former since that was not their intent. And I can’t fault Apple for the computer’s ultimate demise because that is the case with all things in this universe.

    The computer example also illustrates that in a world of spacetime and matter, all design has tradeoffs. Large computers are more powerful, but less mobile. Yet large and small computers are still designed. Designers look for optimal design, and trade one attribute off for another in order to achieve their objectives.

    To say that an all good and powerful God would design something better than we have is to leave the realm of science for theology and morality. It is an interesting question, but it doesn’t bear on the empirical data we can witness– such as a genetic code– which is positive evidence for an intelligent designer, much like a software code is positive evidence for a programmer. Put another way, an archaeologist can know that the Rosetta Stone was the product of design, even if he can conceive of a material and writing style that the engraver “should” have used to have made the Rosetta Stone stronger and clearer.

    In fact, when you find faults in someone else’s posts here (which you all do to one another) you are illustrating this point. Posts may have faults and errors, but they are still designed.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    P.S. More on this here: http://www.crossexamined.org/articles-detail.asp?ID=89&Title=%22Designer%20Wouldn%27t%20Have%20Done%20it%20that%20Way%22%20Argument%20Backfires

    Reply
  173. Tim D. says:

    I haven’t been able to keep up with all the posts, but you seemed to have arrived at the idea that if something ultimately breaks down– or one could conceive of a more durable design– then the object in question was not designed.

    I don’t think anyone was making that case, actually. Someone did make a tongue-in-cheek reference to god’s apparently shoddy crafstmanship, but I don’t think anyone’s seriously made that argument. I certainly can’t find any posts making it.

    Reply
  174. Toby R. says:

    To say that an all good and powerful God would design something better than we have is to leave the realm of science for theology and morality. It is an interesting question, but it doesn’t bear on the empirical data we can witness– such as a genetic code– which is positive evidence for an intelligent designer, much like a software code is positive evidence for a programmer.

    This is, I have to say, the mother of all cop outs. God is all powerful . . . yet he’s completely constrained by his creation. Not only that you blindly assert that DNA and RNA is designed. Why stop there? Why not claim that atoms are designed (which I’m sure you already believe)? You don’t make this claim because it doesn’t fit with your analogy of genetic material resembling a code or language. You often say (paraphrasing here), “Where does morality come from? An oxygen atom?” You deride matter as being lifeless and unintelligent, but what you’re arguing for here, what makes us who we are, is a collection of atoms. If we were to draw pictures of the matrix of atoms that form a piece of limestone you could also put that in a book and say, “Whoa man, look how complex that is!” . . . but have to leave out any of the intelligence stuff . . . ‘cuz it’s a rock . . . and we can explain how it formed.

    I’m very curious about ID. Where does it begin? At a common ancestor? Or is this genetic material made from crap laying around on the early planet, put together by a magic finger coming out of the sky and poking into the muck? This magic muck then is thrown to the four corners already in the form of animals. ID has to assume that evolution is correct or else it’s nothing better than hocus pocus. Now there’s no life here, now there is.

    The idea of an amoeba’s DNA being a 1000 encyclopedia’s long is (and I hate to use philosophical-ish jargon; it makes me feel dirty) an Appeal To Incredulity a version of argumentum ad ignorantiam.

    Do you know anything about amoebas? Aside from some of them giving you a rotten case of the green-apple-splatters? What you’re probably talking about in your book is Polychaos dubia. This thing is said to have a genetic code over 200 times LONGER than humans (IF, that is, the early methods of estimating base pairs were accurate; I’m not certain if anyone has undertaken to use modern methods). Is that in IDHEFTBAA? No, this is:

    “…when we look at the first one-celled life, the Principle of Uniformity tells us that only an intelligent cause could assemble the equivalent of 1,000 encyclopedias. Natural laws never have been observed to create a simple message like “Drink Coke,” much less a message 1,000 encyclopedias long.”

    You blatantly misinform anyone reading this book into thinking that early forms of life would have genetic codes this long. It is more likely that in an evolutionary view early life would have fewer base pairs than in seen in human mitochondria (16,000+)—mitochondria have similarities with prokaryotic species. 16,000+ base pairs is a far cry from 600,000,000,000+ base pairs of an amoeba. Does an amoeba having 600,000,000,000+ base pairs (remember, that’s more than a human at 2,900,000,000) make the amoeba a more complex lifeform? Look at all of the “information” it must contain!

    John said, “Toby, you committed a couple other fallacies, wishful thinking and Appeal to the future, when you said, “There might well be scores of unknown natural causes to who knows what that we don’t yet know about.”–One can simply reply, with logically equivalent argumentative force, “There might well be a supernatural cause that we don’t know about yet.” “Might” is a long way from, “is” or “probably.” Blind appeals to future amount to wishful thinking and prove only that you are hopeful or that you can guess about things.”

    This is a weak argument against what I said. “Appeal To The Future”. You philosopher-types love your classification terms. True, one could simply reply with, “There might be a supernatural force we don’t know about yet!” (though theists seem to exude having this knowledge). The major difference between supernaturalism and science in moments like this is evidence. And that evidence is a little thing called, “History.” There has never been a claim made from a supernatural standpoint that offers a better explanation of an observable phenomenon than science.

    I’ve coined a new phrase to print on t-shirts. It’ll be on a plain white t-shirt and say, “I.D. is B.S.” Can I take anyone’s order? Tim? Ed?

    Reply
  175. John Ferrer says:

    Frank, thanks for chiming in. I think Tim missed some of the argument here about disteleology (ie: bad design). The first post about the Giraffe’s neck and subsequent posts about its poor craftsmanship in regards to the Laryngeal nerve are are arguments against Design by way of apparently poor craftsmanship.

    I haven’t followed all the discourse myself. Some of the off-topic stuff I just skip. Thanks for the input though. Your counterexample from the car that breaks down helps remind the onlooker that bad design is evidence against simplistic forms of creationism, not against ID. Contemporary ID theory is unphased by those objections. ID theorists are not committed to EVERYTHING manifesting discernible perfect design. Remember, one can be an evolutionist and an ID theorist (ie: Dinesh D’souza).

    Everyone, ID is not creationism. ID theorists are not committed to “perfect design” (as presumed in a simple “perfect God = perfect creation” equation), nor to any particular God-doctrine, nor to a certain view of supernature, nor to a certain view on the age of the earth, nor to the Bible. Whatever religous or irreligious views one holds, ID theorists take care to distinguish demonstrable scientific hypotheses from merely theological dogma. Creationists often begin their science on that dogmatic foundation. ID theorists conscientiously suspend any such presumptions so as to conduct research that will not be viewed as presumptuous or stilted. Creationists and ID theorists have HEATED disagreements with each other and do NOT consider their views to be the same.

    so, whenever people confuse the two it’s amusing to me since that’s kind of like confusing Sunni’s and Shiites in Islam, or secular atheists and Buddhist atheists, or Einsteinian and Quantum physics, or some other critically important but glaring distinction overlooked by outsiders.

    Reply
  176. John Ferrer says:

    Toby, you said “There has never been a claim made from a supernatural standpoint that offers a better explanation of an observable phenomenon than science.”

    Is that statement science?

    Moreover, if you are implying that science speaks to and discredits the supernatural then you are ARE saying that science addresses the question of whether there is a supernatural realm. That is a theological task. And so, science and theology are not separate by your understanding of theology.

    In other words, if science can say “there is no God” and that be a scientific statement, then science overlaps theology since both address the existence and nature of God. Atheology (ala, early Tony Flew) is still a brand of theology.

    It seems the presumed antisupernaturalism flowing underneath much of contemporary scientism implicitly exposes a theological (albeit atheological).

    If science, by it’s methodological naturalism, cannot allow for a supernatural cause, then neither can it address whether one actually happens/is possible–it cannot look into its effects as such, it cannot investigate it’s mode of causation, it cannot infer about the cause–as all that would be to investigate a purported supernatural cause. I contend that methodological naturalism defies the historic ethos of science which is to respect no dogma–theistic nor atheistic–and consider all questions fair game. Science does not fear psuedoscience, nor false religions, nor bad philosophy–any contender for scientific status can enter the ring, and eventually even if there is a fight, false claimants to scientific status eventually lose out.

    Geocentrism is a scientific theory, now discredited. Hence it’s not “science” per se.

    Astrology is pseudoscientific for lack of demonstrable or testable causal forces, and it has been discredited.

    ID is a scientific theory, that many consider discredited though there is little hearing of it’s actual hypotheses enough to test them. here’s a few.

    1) Date the Type 3 secretory system in comparison to the probable age in which the Flagelum would have appeared–ID predicts that the Type 3 system is newer.

    2) (for Fine Tuning strands of ID) Keep searching for ET. The latest planetary candidate for “extra-terrestrial life” will not satisfy the full criteria of the “goldilocks zone” and so, no ET will turn up.

    . . . TBC (My wife is calling me)

    Reply
  177. Nathan Barley says:

    “My car breaks down, but it certainly was designed.”

    But when it breaks down you kind of get the feeling that an all-knowing super genius wasn’t responsible, right?

    John, several people have now posted that they reckon Ed fairly comprehensively answered you points. Do you have an answer to that?

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  178. Toby R. says:

    Moreover, if you are implying that science speaks to and discredits the supernatural then you are ARE saying that science addresses the question of whether there is a supernatural realm. That is a theological task. And so, science and theology are not separate by your understanding of theology.

    Sure. In that it generally dismisses it because it does not deal with observable phenomenon and the outlandish claims made by theism, resurrection, healing people just by touch, talking burning bushes, etc which do not happen . . . unless you’re not really dead, not really sick, or high on something. It doesn’t even have to go so far as science to discredit these things. The everyday experience of a mortician (or even millions of them) will tell you that dead people do not sit up, pull trocars out, and say, “Thanks, but I’m better now.” and walk away.

    You know, ignore that last paragraph and just tell me these things:

    What supernatural events are we talking about here? Give some specifics.

    1) Date the Type 3 secretory system in comparison to the probable age in which the Flagelum would have appeared–ID predicts that the Type 3 system is newer.

    I’d like to be point to an article with these claims. I’d like to know what these people say at what point these things came about and how, if there were a designer, these things were made. Shouldn’t ID make predictions about the designer? What are they?

    2) (for Fine Tuning strands of ID) Keep searching for ET. The latest planetary candidate for “extra-terrestrial life” will not satisfy the full criteria of the “goldilocks zone” and so, no ET will turn up.

    This is another ignorance argument. It presumes knowledge that the only kind of life is as we know it on our little rock.

    Reply
  179. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek said:The Christian worldview admits that this is a fallen world that will ultimately break down

    Dr. Turek and John,

    I have a question about this because it’s something I haven’t been able to really understand, despite my best effort. If I misstate something, it’s because of a lack of understanding, not some effort at setting up a strawman.

    When you say fallen world, I believe you are referring to a world which has fallen because of sin. Due to this sin and fallen world, things now break down as you say.

    Paul wrote: Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.

    What was the mechanism behind this?

    How did sin modify the world? How does sin alter the physical reality of the world? (For example, no one believes that dogs sin, but dogs still breakdown, so sin of man must have changed the physical realities of the dog body, which was unrelated to the sin. Again, what’s the mechanism here?)

    Let’s look at your car example; yes your car breaks down. This is for two reasons. It would not be practical to make a car that would never break down (cars could be more robust mechanically, but would likely be prohibitively expensive and be much less efficient), and even if this was tried, we probably don’t have the skills to pull it off.

    What the fallen world/sin theory puts forth though seems like this:

    You have a car which is designed and will last forever. Then someone commits a sin (the first sin ever), let’s say it’s adultery, and all of a sudden, your car is vulnerable to breakdown.

    For this to happen though, the car has to change physically. How does sin (an action of a person) do this? How would sin be able to change your car; what is the mechanism?

    (I realize that you don’t think sin ruined cars, I am just using as an illustration as you did. How does it change humans and animals physically, for example?)

    In humans, let’s look at something like bacterial pneumonia, which clearly causes death and great suffering among humans.

    Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria contains a complex genetic code that many believe was designed.

    How does sin design this genetic code and turn into a physical reality? (Sin it seems is immaterial, but was able to put a mechanism for death into physical existence.)

    We can say pretty definitively that one way in which death enters the world is Streptococcus pneumoniae. If Paul is right then death enters the world through sin, then sin is responsible for Streptococcus pneumoniae, right?

    I’d like to bring in two other quick things into the equation, then I hope you’ll be able to help me understand all this.

    Psalm 139:13 tells us that G-d knits us in the womb, every little thing about us. So where is there room for sin to affect our physical being? How does sin do this? If sin altered our bodies in a way which causes them to break down, then sin has to be part of that knitting process, right?

    Also, Dr. Turek, you said that we expect things (e.g. humans) to break down in a fallen world.

    Yet Genesis 3 tells us: Then the L-rd G-d said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.

    So it seems that it certainly is possible for man to live forever despite sin, therefore I don’t see how sin can be said to require a world in which man is broken down.

    If it’s possible for sinful man to live forever, why do we expect a fallen world to require death? (Or do you mean this fallen world, but accept there could be fallen worlds with no death? If this is the case, who controls which type of fallen world we live in? G-d or sin? Or both? If it’s G-d, isn’t He ultimately responsible for world being fallen in the way it is, not sin itself?)

    Thanks in advance for any help understanding this.

    Luke

    Reply
  180. Nathan barley says:

    Explaining away so-called bad design in our anatomy by reference to the Fall comes across as a post-hoc justification. It’s unfalsifiable, and attempting to have your cake and eat it too. Attributes of an animal that work well? Must have been a perfect designer. Attributes that work badly? Not the designer’s fault, that’s the Fall.

    And we’re not talking about design trade-offs like you’ll find in a car, or even the manoeuvrability versus balance trade-offs you’ll find in flying creatures. We’re talking plain and simple bad design, which exactly mirrors the problems you’d expect in an evolved animal.

    Reply
  181. John Ferrer says:

    Ed,

    Give me some time to respond to your whole post. Your recent post is much more responsible than your previous ones. I was overlooking your more ad hominem posts and starting to dismiss you as a troll. But this last post is more substantive. I’ll need a few days to respond though. I’m busy right now.

    A few points I can make about your post though are . . .

    1) I disagree with methodological naturalism for the reasons I’ve already stated. So I think you are wrong by saying ” [Science] It has to be explained by reference to natural law.”

    You are prohibiting science from being either atheistic or theistic since you are hereby prohibiting it from proving or disproving its naturalistic methodology. [Incidentally, you are doing philosophy of science and not “science.” Those in this blog who scorn philosophy should note this distinction], You are treating naturalism not as any point of evidence but as a starting point. This is uncalled for since, and many naturalists don’t get this, supernaturalism’s greatest strength is that it can absorb all the benefits of naturalism without being limited to naturalism. That is, religious people live in the same natural-law world that non-religious people do. And religious scientists conduct their science largely the same as non-religious do. And yet many supernaturalists in their science do not intentionally prohibit a theoretically possible causal set, just because they give priority to natural causes.

    2) You don’t know Dembski too well. He’s not a young-earther. At least he wasn’t when I last talked with him. Again people are blurring creationism with ID.

    3) I see a lot of people slipping and sliding around in trying to refer to ID because they aren’t willing to admit the hard fought and clearly discernable distinctions between religion, supernaturalism, superstition, the different world religions, and, in this case, ID. It looks amateur when people lump ID in with creationism or pretend that ID has to defend Theism proper (ie: All-knowing, all-powerful, God.). You guys often are critiquing young-earth creationism and not even addressing the substance of ID. That conflation is no less egregious than mistaking Lemarkian and Darwinian evolution. ID does not have any intrinsic or definitive interest in proving omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence, etc.

    Reply
  182. Ed says:

    John Ferrer: I disagree with methodological naturalism for the reasons I’ve already stated. So I think you are wrong by saying ” [Science] It has to be explained by reference to natural law.”

    Response: That is the definition given by philosopher Michael Ruse to the federal judge in the 1982 Arkansas case who ruled creation “science” is religion and not science.

    John Ferrer: You are prohibiting science from being either atheistic or theistic since you are hereby prohibiting it from proving or disproving its naturalistic methodology. [Incidentally, you are doing philosophy of science and not “science.” Those in this blog who scorn philosophy should note this distinction], You are treating naturalism not as any point of evidence but as a starting point.

    Response: You confused methodological naturalism with metaphysical naturalism. Methodological naturalism is simply an assumption science makes that all observations have naturalistic explanations. Scientists have no need to prove naturalistic methodology because it is not a scientific question amenable to empirical adjudication.

    John Ferrer: This is uncalled for since, and many naturalists don’t get this, supernaturalism’s greatest strength is that it can absorb all the benefits of naturalism without being limited to naturalism.

    Response: On the contrary. Beliefs in the supernatural invariably cause gross misunderstandings and even delusions about the natural world. So important benefits of naturalism are destroyed by supernaturalism and that is just one of the many weaknesses of supernaturalism.

    John Ferrer: That is, religious people live in the same natural-law world that non-religious people do. And religious scientists conduct their science largely the same as non-religious do. And yet many supernaturalists in their science do not intentionally prohibit a theoretically possible causal set, just because they give priority to natural causes.

    Response: Science can and does study supposed supernatural phenomena, such as intercessory prayer, parapsychology (ESP, etc.) visions, near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, miracles, the Shroud of Turin, etc. If any of these things could be empirically verified it would be highly unlikely that it could be explained naturally. The total absence of any scientific observations in support of supernatural phenomena is strong evidence that they do not exist.

    John Ferrer: 2) You don’t know Dembski too well. He’s not a young-earther. At least he wasn’t when I last talked with him. Again people are blurring creationism with ID.

    Response: Dembski has waffled between young and old earth creationism but he is still a creationist as are all the other ID proponents. We’re not blurring creationism with ID you’re trying to blur the distinction between religion and science.

    John Ferrer: I see a lot of people slipping and sliding around in trying to refer to ID because they aren’t willing to admit the hard fought and clearly discernable distinctions between religion, supernaturalism, superstition, the different world religions, and, in this case, ID. It looks amateur when people lump ID in with creationism or pretend that ID has to defend Theism proper (ie: All-knowing, all-powerful, God.). You guys often are critiquing young-earth creationism and not even addressing the substance of ID. That conflation is no less egregious than mistaking Lemarkian and Darwinian evolution. ID does not have any intrinsic or definitive interest in proving omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence, etc.

    Response: The Intelligent Design Magic movement consists exclusively of Christian fundamentalists and their objections to evolution are identical to those of the creationists. ID is just a deceptive repackaging and remarketing of long discredited arguments. You simply cannot separate the ID Magic movement from the people who make up this movement. They’re all Christian Bible believers and so they do have a definitive interest in proving omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence, etc. and above all that the intelligent designer is Jesus Christ or Sun Myung Moon whom Jonathan Wells thinks is the second coming of Christ. There’s no getting around the fact that this is what the ID Magic movement is really all about.

    Reply
  183. Frank Turek says:

    atheists or agnostics who defend ID:
    Dr. David Berlinski
    Dr. Bradley Monton
    Dr. Michael Denton
    and there are more

    But so what? It is the genetic fallacy to discount a position based on who believes it. Isn’t the question here, is ID science?

    Well, who gets to determine the rules of science and why? That’s a philosophical question which undergirds science and can’t be determined by science itself. Clearly we all philosophically accept ID as science when it comes to archaeology, SETI, and criminal investigations. Why not for biology?

    Maybe this has been covered in years past on this blog somewhere (Nathan might know). But it would be nice to see some of the new folks give their perspective. Why not ID as a possibility for biology given we accept it in other areas of inquiry?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  184. Frank Turek says:

    BTW, for you newer posters. Please try to keep your posts concise and focused on one issue. Comments that are longer than the original posts and attempt to make multiple points are hard to follow and lead down rabbit trails that muddle the main issue. Thanks.

    Reply
  185. Nathan Barley says:

    I joke – I know you didn’t mean that as an insult.

    “Clearly we all philosophically accept ID as science when it comes to archaeology, SETI, and criminal investigations.”

    None of these involve the supernatural. As a small example, forensic evidence depends on the assumption that the laws of physics etc are constant.

    More importantly though, as I’ve explained before, a criminal investigation would get nowhere if it accepted the supernatural as an explanation. Consider certain countries where people are still accused of witchcraft. How does one prove one’s innocence in such a case? A fair trial is nigh-on near impossible.

    What crime could you be NOT be accused of if the supernatural was accepted? There is NO crime that you couldn’t argue you could not have been responsible for, including crimes committed before you were born!

    Reply
  186. Dan says:

    How do we accept ID as science when it comes to “archaeology, SETI, and criminal investigations?”

    Hasn’t ID been proven as unscientific over and over on an official court level? Seriously, I’m asking, not just trying to make a point.

    Reply
  187. Ed says:

    Why not for biology?

    Because ID Magic has not and cannot produce anything but propaganda. Where are the new medicines, vaccines, food crops and poisons to protect those crops a competing theory with evolution would surely be able to produce? If Frank really wanted an answer to that question he could go to any science department in any Christian college or university in the world and the Christians scientists would be glad to explain to him why they teach evolution and why the reject ID Magic.

    Reply
  188. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    I hope you’ll find some time to address my question about sin and the fallen world. I really am interested in it.

    As far as ID and information theory, you say that information theory is used in archeology, SETI, and criminal investigations.

    From what I’ve read about information theory (just on the internet), none of this is mentioned. Here is a list of applications of info theory, from Wikipedia.

    * Cryptanalysis
    * Cryptography
    * Cybernetics
    * Entropy in thermodynamics and information theory
    * Gambling
    * Intelligence (information gathering)
    * Seismic exploration

    Where I have seen SETI mentioned, it is because of the theories use in code breaking, not some foundational idea of SETI. (So if a message is picked up, we can use info theory to try to figure out what it might mean.)

    Do you have any info on what about of information theory exactly is used, how, and why sources such as wikipedia miss it?

    Also, you say that if we apply info theory to all these disciplines, why not biology. Would you apply it to theology?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  189. Toby R. says:

    Luke,

    Info Theory is all of the things you listed, but the IDers have coopted or hijacked the phrase and applied their philosophy to it. Like below.

    1. Language comes from intelligent beings.
    2. Language is a code.
    3. Genetic material is a code.
    4. Therefore genetic material is a language.
    5. Therefore genetic material comes from intelligence.

    Or something like that. They fail to elaborate on any other languages or codes in nature. Take table salt for instance. Aside from the possible introduction of iodine by Morton’s it’s basic chemistry is Na+Cl-. Oh gee! Look at that! A code! Therefore an intelligence made it!

    Do you believe that implies intelligence or do you believe that’s intelligence interpreting chemicals (that react based on physical laws such as gravity, nuclear forces, and electromagnetism) in a familiar way, an almost anthropomorphic way, relating them to our man made language?

    Atoms are rarely used as a defense of ID. Physics has done a good job of describing how atoms were born in the furnaces of stars and the big bang. It’s hard to ascribe intelligent design to something that you can explain how it happens in nature. The best ID can do is say that something made the physcial laws in such a way that atom formation could occur, but to say that that intelligence had the vision to see where that atomic evolution would end up and that we were the ultimate goal of it merely because we happen to be alive now and considering it is stretching credibility. The atheist and agnostics Frank mentioned (he should have left off Berlinski—from a book mentioning him: “. . . The content of David Berlinski’s article does not differ from more traditional creation-science material, though his tone is more genteel and his writing a lot more literate. . . . But true to the creation-science genre, his approach consists of constructing strawmen, then knocking them down with misinterpreted, faulty, or nonexistent data as well as carefully selected quotations from evolutionary scientists. . . .”) one would have to wonder who they believe the designer(s) were/was. Aliens? Scientists in another universe that inadvertently created us with a Large Hadron Collider of their own? A magic sky daddy with the power to put us into the world and take us out? Doesn’t make them much of an atheist of that’s the case.

    What intelligence, Frank, can you infer from the creation of larger atoms by means of the rather unintelligent fusion furnaces of stars? Stars that do what they do for a few billion years, then explode spreading their contents that are in turn condensed into planets and other stars by gravity, some of which are compatible for life. This looks more like a cosmic version of evolution, though there doesn’t seem to be a survival of the fittest that I can discern. Our universe’s physics, the way atoms interact, seem to be the reason for life. To say DNA is designed isn’t accurate.

    For me, the ID argument is just like all other theistic arguments. They all hinge on only ONE argument. The cosmological argument. If their position on this argument is false, then the rest of their arguments are false. In fact I don’t think the rest of their arguments even matter without this one. The ontological, the moral, design, etc. If the cosmo argument is wrong, then these are just filthy rags.

    Reply
  190. Charles says:

    Why hasn’t much been said about Quantum Theory and the study of Consciousness as support for ID? From what I understand, physics is science and the findings seem to point toward design; certainly with regards to studies of the mind in contrast to the brain.

    I know that Physics is quite broad, but the findings are pretty interesting in the least.

    Reply
  191. Luke says:

    Toby said:Info Theory is all of the things you listed, but the IDers have coopted or hijacked the phrase and applied their philosophy to it. Like below.

    1. Language comes from intelligent beings.
    2. Language is a code.
    3. Genetic material is a code.
    4. Therefore genetic material is a language.
    5. Therefore genetic material comes from intelligence.

    I am just not sure how information theory — from what I’ve been able to find out about it — fits into this.

    I guess from what I’ve read, and I’ve read several articles (not from anyone interested in any evolution/ID viewpoint) and none of the above has been mentioned at all.

    I guess that’s my question. Dr. Turek seems to say that information theory proves that code comes from intelligence (as you basically said above), which is why it’s the basis for something like SETI and also archeology.

    But when I read about information theory, I can’t find anything like the language/code must come from intelligence theorem, nor any mention of SETI or archeology in anything I’ve been able to find. Hence my confusion.

    I understand what Dr. Turek is using information theory to say, I am just not sure that the “information theory” he’s talking about is the same one that pops up when I look it up on wikipedia or Encyclopedia Britannica.

    Encyclopedia Britannica says: Information Theory is a field of mathematics that studies the problems of signal transmission, reception, and processing.

    So first of all, this is mathematics, not science as John states in the article. Second of all the problem of signal transmission, reception and processing has nothing to do with whether or not a language has to come from a mind. At least not as far as I can see.

    Britannica has a pretty exhaustive article, but nowhere mentioned are: SETI, archeology, criminal investigations, intelligence or a mind (the word appears in a different context, not the way Dr. Turek would use it).

    I am genuinely starting to wonder if the thing I read about for a while yesterday is something completely different than what he and John are talking about.

    I feel like I looked up “bus” and learned all about electrical connections, and they’ve been talking about public transport all along.

    *confused*

    Luke

    Reply
  192. Toby R. says:

    “But when I read about information theory, I can’t find anything like the language/code must come from intelligence theorem, nor any mention of SETI or archeology in anything I’ve been able to find. Hence my confusion.”

    I know what you mean. That’s why I said they hijacked it for themselves. In doing so they should call it, Information Theory (ID). It’s essentially someone saying that all information comes from intelligence. It would seem that they limit that info to language. I’d like to know how they decide what they will and will not accept as information.

    So creationists/IDers idea of information theory = all information comes from intelligence; by information they mean language, and for their purposes they consider DNA a language.

    Reply
  193. Luke says:

    Toby,

    We’ll see what John and Dr. Turek say.

    I don’t know that it’s proper to say they’ve hijacked the idea, because from what I can see that idea was never there to hijack in the first place.

    That’s why I’m seriously wondering if this is something like my bus (electrical) / bus (transport) illustration. This is about the only thing that makes sense to me at this point, unless I have badly misunderstood all of the articles I’ve read.

    Like I said, hopefully their response will clear up some confusion.

    What you say about the nature of information is very true though. I can certainly see how one might consider that atoms contain information. It seems that the idea of information is very difficult to define.

    This is random, but for example does a banana generate and communicate information?

    It’s color tells me how ripe the banana is. That’s information. The color is based on some pretty complex chemical changes. This is the information of the ripeness in code (the chemical structure).

    Obviously the banana is not intelligent (or is it?), and I definitely see how the information in the chemistry of the peel of the banana is different than DNA, but I am not sure I can come up with any definition of information to exclude the former and include the latter that does not prove very problematic when I run through various thought experiments on it.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  194. Toby R. says:

    “I don’t know that it’s proper to say they’ve hijacked the idea, because from what I can see that idea was never there to hijack in the first place.”

    I’m sure that if you read one of the ID demagogues like Dembski or Behe you’ll find whatever definition that theists here are bandying about.

    What I’ve come to believe in this post is that these fellows don’t give a rip about science, only philosophy. They don’t respond to posts fronting science. Heck, about 20 posts ago I pasted a link in to a scientific article from Oxford Journals titled “Diversifying Selection Drives the Evolution of the Type III Secretion System Pilus of Pseudomonas syringae” and it’s yet to be allowed to be posted. Sure it’s dry reading, but there’s no doubt that it at least gives a little something to think about in relation to the ID vs evolution issue.

    John made claims about bacterial antibiotic resistance in a much earlier post. Here’s the paragraph:

    tim, I think it was you who asked about “devolved.” That would mean a change within or between species which constitutes a loss of genetic information. An example would be antibiotic resistent bacteria. If it is true, by ID theory, that high levels of information do not emerge naturally, then a bacterium which naturally changes to become resistant to antibiotics is either not a high level of information or it will have lost information in its respective recoding and not gained information (ie: specified complexity–think of it as losing volumes of an encyclopedia series versus gaining volumes of it). Things can evolve down in order and not up in order. And that devolution tends to get highly unstable the further you get from it’s originally found order. ID theory predicts all of this.

    I replied how this is completely false in regards to how bacteria can acquire resistance—the short of it being that self-reproducing loops of DNA called plasmids can recombine or ADD their DNA to the chromosomal DNA of a bacteria. Google “plasmid”. Wiki has a great article on them.

    I received no response to that post. This was the first thing that led me to believe these guys don’t care about science, only their theology and how to justify it by dragging it through the maze of philosophy. I posted not to long ago about Polychaos dubia which is the amoeba Frank mentions in his book—though not by name—that has 1000 volumes of encyclopedia in its DNA (which actually means there are enough combinations of the letters A, C, T, and G—the abbreviations of DNA base pairs—to fill the pages). What he fails to mention is that this particular amoeba has over 200 times the amount of DNA that a human has. Does this make this single celled organism more complex than humans? By their logic DNA is a code and the more complex the code the more complex the lifeform. To this I’ve yet to see a response. They leave the reader to infer that if a single celled organism, which a lay person would assume is less complex than a human, has this much DNA info, then a human would have so much more. . . . It just seems this is a cheap maneuver to win minds through inadvertent or planned deception.

    Reply
  195. Nathan Barley says:

    “Does this make this single celled organism more complex than humans?”

    In his debate last week with Christopher Hitchens, Dembski claimed that there was no such thing as junk DNA, so I guess he would have to argue that the amoeba IS more complex than humans.

    That aside, this argument against junk DNA seems hard to justify to me anyway. There are snakes that have DNA effectively giving the instructions “create legs”, and then other DNA effectively saying “ignore the instructions about creating legs”. Occasionally the latter will go wrong and you’ll get a mutant snake with a fully developed leg sticking out of it. The best explanation for this is the one already supported by the fossil record – that snakes evolved from creatures with legs, and that that they gradually lost the legs.

    Reply
  196. Luke says:

    Luke said:I don’t know that it’s proper to say they’ve hijacked the idea, because from what I can see that idea was never there to hijack in the first place.

    Toby said:I’m sure that if you read one of the ID demagogues like Dembski or Behe you’ll find whatever definition that theists here are bandying about.

    Toby, but Dembski or Behe don’t just get to make things up. This is either part of information theory, or it is not.

    Either there are some peer-reviewed articles that come to this conclusion, or there are not.

    (It is not enough to infer something from the theory and state that this is what the theory believes!)

    I am still open to the possibility that there is some confusion on my part going on here and look forward to hearing from Dr. Turek and John.

    Luke

    Reply
  197. Ed says:

    Here’s unmistakable PROOF that Intelligent Design is just repackaged creationism:

    The book Of Pandas and People originally began as an unpublished manuscript entitled “Creation Biology” (1983), which was changed to “Biology of Creation” (1986) and then “Of Pandas and People” (1987), which was published in 1989. The most recent edition is called “The Design of Life.” “Creation” was dropped from the title, and suddenly in 1987, there were other interesting changes made in the text.

    The words “creationism” and “creationist” in the book were replaced with “intelligent design”. A word processor was used to search and replace “creation” and “creationism” with “intelligent design”; “intelligent creator” was changed to “intelligent agency”, and “creationists” was changed to “design proponents”. In one case, the word “design proponent” was inserted into the middle of the original word “creationists,” which became “design proponentists.” It has been pointed out that this mistake provides evidence for the “missing link” connecting creationism to intelligent design. Amazingly, these changes in the text were made in 1987 – precisely after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “creation science” is a religious doctrine that cannot be taught in public school science classes (Edwards v. Aguillard). Thus, ID was invented as an intentional strategy to re-label creationism so that creationists’ textbooks could be marketed to public schools.9.

    Reply
  198. Luke says:

    By the way, thanks for sharing the information about the amoeba.

    I’d like to hear what Mr. Jones would have to say about that presentation.

    Dr. Turek certainly left me, whether that was intentional or not, with a distorted picture of the complexity of single celled and human DNA. Thanks for correcting my misconception.

    Luke

    Reply
  199. Charles says:

    Toby said – The best ID can do is say that something made the physcial laws in such a way that atom formation could occur, but to say that that intelligence had the vision to see where that atomic evolution would end up and that we were the ultimate goal of it merely because we happen to be alive now and considering it is stretching credibility.

    I may be just an old blue collar Churchboy, but has anyone considered that it takes conciousness to interepret information? Physics (wave/particles in particular) suggests that electrons are not simply in orbit around certain nuclei until a conscious observer “decides” to see it., thus creating an image. This would render all that we see in our reality to a “virtual” world.

    Why not carry the notion of our conciousness having a source just like everything else in nature since it takes a concious mind to know what to do with information in the first place?

    Reply
  200. Toby R. says:

    “Toby, but Dembski or Behe don’t just get to make things up. This is either part of information theory, or it is not.”

    I’m sure they can if they want to, but I don’t think so in this case. When I said hijacked I meant they took an existing theory and used it for their own means whether or not info theory experts had anything to say about the matter at all. It seems that ID folks take Information Theory which is (from wiki), “Information theory is a branch of applied mathematics and electrical engineering involving the quantification of information. Information theory was developed by Claude E. Shannon to find fundamental limits on signal processing operations such as compressing data and on reliably storing and communicating data.” and throw out everything but the very basic idea that, “Language and code is information that comes from intelligence.”

    Reply
  201. Nathan Barley says:

    “but has anyone considered that it takes conciousness to interepret information?”

    Well, then my DNA cannot be considered to be information then. My body grew from a single cell thanks to my DNA, with no consciousness being involved.

    Reply
  202. Toby R. says:

    “I may be just an old blue collar Churchboy, but has anyone considered that it takes conciousness to interepret information?”

    I think the problem, more or less, is what kind of information we are talking about. Intelligence originated information or interpreted information. One is originated by intelligence, such as a language. The other is information that intelligence bases on it’s own interpretation of nature.

    Reply
  203. Luke says:

    Toby,

    I guess what I am saying is that I don’t even find that basic idea — language and code is information that comes from intelligence — to be a conclusion or foundation of information theory.

    I haven’t read that statement anywhere outside of ID promoting articles.

    That the source is intelligent is just not something that information theory sets out to show or prove, at least as far as I can see.

    It does so happen that the messages studied by info theory originated with intelligence, but info theory does not study or describe this (again, as far as I can tell).

    It seems this may be the same mistake that people make in conflating abiogenesis and evolution.

    Evolutionary theory says nothing about where life came from, or how it came about.

    In the same way, information theory seems to say nothing about where messages came from.

    Just as evolution assumes life is present, info theory makes calculations on messages, assuming their presence.

    (Some people do see info theory as a way to possibly gauge the intelligence of something sending a message, by looking at the entropy of that message, etc. I would probably agree that it takes intelligence to quickly create a message, but to pretend that this necessitates that it also takes intelligence to do so over the long term is to believe in something else. (And that something else can be proven mathematically to be false anyway.) In other words, it is to advance another theory — not information theory. It’s like getting into abiogenesis, and stepping away from evolution.)

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  204. Charles says:

    Nathan said – “Well, then my DNA cannot be considered to be information then. My body grew from a single cell thanks to my DNA, with no consciousness being involved.”

    My thought is that the single cell is carrying DNA from two sources (parents) that are infused into the cell. It is possible to concieve that the maternal DNA may communicate with the the host (mom) until the development of the single cell is such that can facilitate his/her own conciousness. This would mean the transfer of information. Am I way off?

    Along with that I have the understanding that; even though we grow out of cell division that we are still cognizant of our parents. I may be wrong. I say all this to say that it is conceivable that an outside source could, in fact, envision the design.

    Reply
  205. Luke says:

    I guess I just feel a bit like I’ve been duped.

    I’ve been told that this messages necessitates intelligence theorem is part of an established branch of mathematics (or science as John claimed) and this is a conclusion that everyone agrees with.

    I’ve been told that archeology depends on this, as do all these other things.

    I’ve now read quite a bit about this, and I feel as though I am finding out that none of that is actually true!

    Like I said, I just feel totally duped. And the more I read, I am becoming convinced that this is not some innocent misunderstanding or poor comprehension on my part.

    For example, John said that info theory is a staple in various disciplines. Yet, when I look at most of those disciplines on Britannica and other sources, info theory is nowhere mentioned! Perhaps John defines staple differently then I do, but like I said — I’ve likely been duped!

    (I might say a snare is a staple of a drum beat, but when you go looking, you’ll find a snare in almost every beat you run across. As Lauren Hill once said “Me without a mic is like a beat without a snare.”)

    (After pretty exhaustive looking, I can find some mention of info theory by archeologists, but in a wildly different context then presented here and by Dr. Turek in various other places. Even if I grant the huge difference in context, I would hardly call it a staple, given how hard I had to look.)

    Anyway…

    Luke

    Reply
  206. Charles says:

    Toby said – “I think the problem, more or less, is what kind of information we are talking about. Intelligence originated information or interpreted information. One is originated by intelligence, such as a language. The other is information that intelligence bases on it’s own interpretation of nature.”

    I am inclined to think intelligence originated information in lieu of my position being that nature is an extension of its designer. I think that interpreted information alone doesn’t make much sense because then the question arises; where did the intelligence to interpret the information come from? A

    Reply
  207. Nathan Barley says:

    “It is possible to concieve that the maternal DNA may communicate with the the host (mom)”

    You said a consciousness was required – the mother is not conscious of any of this happening. It takes place at a cellular level with no thought from the mother required.

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  208. Charles says:

    Understood, however the conscious thought that conception is possible with no precautions as well as the exchange of information between mother and child in the womb, for example.

    Reply
  209. Nathan barley says:

    Charles, your talking nonsense. Every second there are thousands of processes going on in your body that you have no conscious knowledge of. At their basis is so-called codes and information.

    Reply
  210. Charles says:

    Like I was saying, I’m no scholar, but it seems to me that there is nothing wrong with ID being construed as science. There are plenty of great minds that are proponents of ID that have contributed to scientific studies. If they can perceive ID as science why can’t the rest of the world? Personally, I think it is more political than it is an issue of if it is really science or not.

    Reply
  211. Nathan barley says:

    “There are plenty of great minds that are proponents of ID that have contributed to scientific studies”

    Can you give examples?

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  212. Charles says:

    Dr. Guillermo Gonzales of Iowa State is one example just off the top of my head. If I am not mistaken, he was integral in the discovery of several planets.

    Reply
  213. Nathan barley says:

    Fair enough, but John made the point at the beginning that you should judge the argument, not the man’s background. A great physicist could also believe in astrology, it wouldn’t give his belief and credibility.

    Reply
  214. Toby R. says:

    So have we given up on this? John? Frank?

    Frank, how do you respond to the amoeba that you mention in your book actually has over 200 times more DNA base pairs than a human? Does it make a single celled amoeba more complex than a human? Did you not know at the time you wrote the book that this was the case? If you did know then the section of the book I quoted above is very misleading.

    John, do you or Frank have any information about current experiments to test ID? You seem to be connected to, or imply that you’re friendly with, people at the forefront of this ID movement. What is Dembski currently experimenting on? Or Behe? Or the Discovery Institute?

    Reply
  215. Tim D. says:

    There are plenty of great minds that are proponents of ID that have contributed to scientific studies. If they can perceive ID as science why can’t the rest of the world? Personally, I think it is more political than it is an issue of if it is really science or not.

    If “it’s all about politics” is the best you can come up with, then you clearly don’t concern yourself much with science. ID is bunk because the sad attempts at “science” on its behalf are bunk. It’s a philosophy, not a science. To say that it’s about politics is to completely skirt the issue of why it’s not accepted in the mainstream in the first place — it’s not accepted in the mainstream because it is an attempt by a fringe group to re-classify their religious philosophy as a scientific view. Just another attempt by Christianity to adapt itself to current (secular) human systems.

    Reply
  216. Nathan Barley says:

    There’s also a strong argument to be made that SETI isn’t science either.

    In fact Massimo Pigliucci makes exactly that argument in his new book “Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk”.

    Reply
  217. John Ferrer says:

    No, I have not given up on any of this. It’s thanksgiving weekend. I”m busy with other things. And I’ll get back to the really long post by Ed when I have time.

    Toby, in some defense of Frank’s point and your rebuttal about the Amoeba with more base pairs–if I understand the gist of Dembski’s information theory, it is not enough to count base pairs of DNA. That is like counting how many words are in a book and assuming that constitutes substantively more “information.” In some sense, yes, that is so. But if the words are padding like a freshman essay, “This book is very very very interesting. I really really really like it,” then we aren’t necessarily talking about a net gain in specified complexity. The base pairs must constitute both complexity (diversity) and specificity (patterning). Now I’m not microbiologist, but I’d predict on the basis of ID, that the DNA and non-DNA elements that altogether blueprint and translate the form of Amoeba are still considerably less specified in their complexity than what we have with humans.

    The best book I know, of late, on ID and recent Genetics studies is “Signature in the Cell.” I haven’t read much of it, but my wife has, and there seem to be some interesting qualifiers in it that totally reshape many of the typical evolutionary objections to ID.

    As for those of you who are suspect of philosophy and consider these debates to be unscientific somehow, we should point out that science is not defined WITHIN the practice of science but within philosophy. This discussion began over how to properly define ID, and frankly, definitional disputes, even about the category of science, situate firmly in philosophy–like it or not. No amount of scientific method has ever, in itself, defined anything without resorting to some measure of philosophy.

    Luke, as for you feeling duped, I think you are mistaken. Archeology could not operate if it presumed mechanistic causes with no principles for identifying when a human intelligence is a better explanation for an arrowhead or pottery shard for example. Forensics could not operate if it presumed only mechanistic causes with no intelligent intervention to say, wipe off fingerprints, or tamper with a crime scene. SETI, while not the most respected of sciences, still, in principle, can operate under naturalistic theories that human-type intelligences generate certain kinds of effects that give a basis for comparison if some other kind of intelligence (an alien) were to try to communicate. I don’t see what your problem is and why you feel duped. If I were you I wouldn’t be surprised that the sciences, now keen on the import of information theory and it’s implications for ID, either suppress information theory, ignore it, or just don’t speak to it because that’s not (to them) a very interesting aspect of their own respective field.

    Toby, I can refer you to some recent works by ID theorists. Michael Behe’s “Edge of Evolution” is actually a pretty magnanimous work admitting a great deal of evolution but pointing out some contraindicatory results from evolutionary studies. The same goes for Stephen Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell.” As for experimentation, I should note that one can use the same experiments as an evolutionist–without even replicating it (why repeat the wheel if the last thousand or so, which have easier access to study grants and community support from the academy, have born similar results). ID theory just makes different hypotheses and so will draw a different interpretive conclusion after the experiment.

    so, for example, if a scientist is able to tamper with a living bacterium to produce thousands of generations of bacterial replications the evolutionist is testing an evolutionary theory. Meanwhile, the ID theorist can observe the same data, put a different hypothesis to it, and interpret it’s outcome with respect that different hypothesis. An evolutionist may theorize from that experiment that micro- evolutionary change can add up to a macro-evolutionary transition thus dissolving the micro/macro distinction. The results may or may not confirm that theory. An ID theorist can bring to that same experiment a hypothesis about the degredational tendency of DNA composition. That is, there will be a net loss of information (reduced specified complexity–not simply cumulative complexity, or specified simplicity), whenever the bacterium is left to mutate on its own without the tampering of an intelligent scientist.

    Reply
  218. Nathan Barley says:

    “But if the words are padding like a freshman essay, “This book is very very very interesting. I really really really like it,””

    As a journalist I would say those ‘very’s are tautology. They add no new information. In biological terms they would be junk DNA. And Dembski denies that junk DNA exists (or at least he did in his recent debate with Hitchens.

    But Dembski also offered quotes from Hitler in that debate that are well-documented frauds, so perhaps we shouldn’t take any of that at face value.

    “Forensics could not operate if it presumed only mechanistic causes with no intelligent intervention to say, wipe off fingerprints, or tamper with a crime scene.”

    John, forensics could not operate if it did not presume that the natural laws of natures remain constant. Forensics depends on this constancy, otherwise any statements about rate of decay etc are useless. It’s a red herring to say that forensics makes the same assumptions as ID – in fact the complete opposite is the case.

    “Specified complexity”

    Has Dembski provided a definition of this term? It seems to put the cart before the horse. It basically just seems to be another way of saying “this has a purpose that an intelligent agent has designed”. How does one go about proving this? I can read purpose into any object I want. I can say that a rock in a wall is particularly useful to me for scratching my back on, therefore the wall has specified complexity. Then if the wall collapses, I might find a completely different use for it. But that’s says nothing about whether it has been designed by another agent for the purposes to which I put it.

    “The same goes for Stephen Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell.””

    Wasn’t the original question asking what innovations or new discoveries have come out of ID? Evolutionary theory has given us many new discoveries. Things that could only work if the theory was correct. Can the same be said of ID?

    Reply
  219. Ed says:

    First of all Stephen Meyer is a widely discredited pathological liar for Jesus. Christians never read the criticisms of their claims. If they did John would be aware of all the refutations on the Internet of Stephen Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell” hoax. Meyer’s arguments are so stupid a fifth grader could see through them. Once again we have another book that has simply repackaged the same old worn out creationist claims and lies.

    Reply
  220. Tim D. says:

    John, forensics could not operate if it did not presume that the natural laws of natures remain constant. Forensics depends on this constancy, otherwise any statements about rate of decay etc are useless. It’s a red herring to say that forensics makes the same assumptions as ID – in fact the complete opposite is the case.

    The problem here is that Mr. Ferrer is equivocating between “natural intelligence” and “supernatural intelligence.” In the case of forensics, natural intelligence (i.e. intelligence which (A) has been proven to exist independently, and (B) is a natural part of the natural world, NOT supernatural) is brought into consideration. However, supernatural intelligence is not ever considered in forensic science, and it never has. Why? Because we have no documented evidence that supernatural intelligence either (A) exists, or (B) if it does, whether or not it has an effect on our world.

    This is the same equivocation I see all across the board on Mr. Turek’s work as well. The Watchmaker argument falls prey to the same fallacy — we assume that the watch has a designer because we know what a watch is, and that it must result from a natural intelligent source….but notice that we do not assume that the watch was created by a ghost, or by a god or other spiritual entity? This is because we have no prior reason to suspect a supernatural cause for a naturally-produced item or system. Proving that natural works come from natural intelligence does not in any way lead to the conclusion that a supernatural intelligence must be involved. And to use proof of natural intelligence as a proof of supernatural intelligence is at best incoherent, at worst, dishonest or malicious.

    Reply
  221. Luke says:

    John,

    I originally asked for help, then said I started to feel that way. I wa readin more and more and kept getting information which was further and further from removed from your point. It was frustrating.

    I understand where you are coming from. I think that Dembski has inserted ideas under the heading of information theory, but these ideas get mixed reactions from information theorists. Have you read much information theory on an academic level and in literature not interested in defending ID?

    If so, what did you read? I’d like tofollow up on the sources you’re using, since mine seem to lead another place.

    Anyway, I am more interested in my questions about a fallen world. (Also, you never told me if you considered Einstein a part time pseudoscientist.)

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  222. Luke says:

    John,

    Here is another way of saying how I see the info theory issue. If I am wrong on my facts please correct me, this is just what I see from my research.

    You said info theory was a staple of all these disciplines. Many of them make no mention of info theory at all, let alone consider it a staple.

    You seem to mean a principle of info theory, but this principle is at best ancillary to what info theory studies, if it studies it at all. (See the definitions I provided above.)

    Moreover, this principle was brought in by ID theorists, so it is not as if ID draws on this existing principle (as you seemed to say), ID theorists first stated the principle.

    Am I incorrect on any of this?

    (Again, it’s an honest question. I hope you will be able to cite your sources, so I can see it from your perspective.)

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  223. Nathan Barley says:

    John Ferrer: “You don’t know Dembski too well. He’s not a young-earther. At least he wasn’t when I last talked with him. Again people are blurring creationism with ID.”

    You’re caveat of ‘at least not when we last spoke’ is necessary. Most people are interpreting the following recent statement from him as tacitly admitting a YEC standpoint:

    “(1) As a biblical inerrantist, I accept the full verbal inspiration of the Bible and the conventional authorship of the books of the Bible. Thus, in particular, I accept Mosaic authorship of Genesis (and of the Pentateuch) and reject the Documentary Hypothesis. (2) Even though I introduce in the book a distinction between kairos (God’s time) and chronos (the world’s time), the two are not mutually exclusive. In particular, I accept that the events described in Genesis 1– 11 happened in ordinary space-time, and thus that these chapters are as historical as the rest of the Pentateuch. (3) I believe that Adam and Eve were real people, that as the initial pair of humans they were the progenitors of the whole human race, that they were specially created by God, and thus that they were not the result of an evolutionary process from primate or hominid ancestors. (William A. Dembski)”

    Some people are speculating that he was forced into the above position by the Discovery Institute, who were increasingly disturbed by his ‘apologetics’ for an Old Earth viewpoint, which in the past Dembski has said one has no choice to accept given all the evidence.

    At any rate, whatever the man truly believes, the above statement certainly would justify Ed calling him currently an apologist for a YEC position.

    By the way, if you look up Wiki’s page for ‘Specified complexity’ there is a good section on criticisms of Dembski’s position.

    Reply
  224. Tim D. says:

    Even though I introduce in the book a distinction between kairos (God’s time) and chronos (the world’s time), the two are not mutually exclusive.

    Interesting….and I thought I was the only person to ever acknowledge a difference between “God-time” and “physics-time.”

    Reply
  225. TobyR. says:

    Thanks for the reference of some books on ID. From what I’ve heard of Dembski, his math for ID is . . . well . . . wonky.

    “Michael Behe’s “Edge of Evolution” is actually a pretty magnanimous work admitting a great deal of evolution but pointing out some contraindicatory results from evolutionary studies.”

    Do any of these people theorize how this intelligence works? We know quite a lot about causation, material effecting other material, but what precisely do we know about the supernatural (presumably not material) effecting material? I’d have to say about zilch. It’s much like the cosmological argument. It’s so weak because it can’t describe anything about the cause other than a mumbled, “god did it.”

    Do any of these people theorize WHEN this intelligence started this experiment? In the Hitchens/Dembski debate someone mentioned, Dembski mentions the “cambrian explosion”, as is often done by creationists. This is a horrible argument that should be abandoned by creationists. It’s a clear “argument from ignorance.”

    Reply
  226. John Ferrer says:

    Ed, I just looked over some of your older posts and before I bite into your extended antithesis, I think you owe the bloggers here a defense your highly contentious claim that “it is a fact that Jesus never existed.” Richard Carrier is about the only academic I know of who even thinks halfway seriously about this claim. And not even he says it’s “a fact.” The far and wide witness of history, among believers and non-believers, religious and irreligious, across the globe admit that there is a historical Jesus of Nazareth.

    this is not a small issue. I”m not sure I can trust your assessment of the nature of science if you are willing to accept such pseudo-science as the denial of historical characters on tenuous and biased evidence. Not to mention, information theory is discreetly assumed within historical and archeological studies (ie: one needs a criterion for distinguishing a pot shard from random shale, or cuneiform from bird scratches). Your denial of ID doesn’t amoun to much if you likewise deny the historicity of Jesus. I’m not saying that you are altogether wrong, but just that your credibility and presumptive authority is maligned by advocating such a contentious claim with little defense for it.

    That kind of conspiracy theories ranks among the 9/11 truthers, the denial of the moon landing, and “Islam is a moon cult” mythology. I’m not sure I can grant you the benefit of the doubt–as I would under normal conventions of civilized discourse–if your views on Intelligent Design class among your views that Jesus of Nazareth never existed.

    Reply
  227. John Ferrer says:

    Nathan, your point is well made. Dembski is conflicted on it, and he has admitted that he’s open to the young-earth model but so far the old-earth model is more scientifically convincing. He debated this last year a conferenc ein fort worth with one of the Morris’ clan of ICR on the other side of the table. Dembski was an ID/Old-earther, and Morris was a Creationist/young-earther.

    Toby, it’s one thing to say his math is wonky, it’s another thing to show it so. Before dembski was applying his information theory to biology and saving it to be used in math, forensics, cryptology, and theoretical sciences he was getting wide acclaim from his peers and superiors at Princeton and his publishers at Cambridge University press, Oxford University press, etc. You can read his supporters–many of them diehard evolutionists–on the reviews of the first editions of his “Design Inference.” The theory was not objectionable, its math, and its basic thesis was considered solid. People began objecting however when he turned that design inference on the sacred cow of methodological naturalism by applying it to biology. Those same reviewers revoked their positive reviews and castigated Dembski, not because of his math, but because of the supernaturalistic possibilities it allows when applied to biology. The theory works however in criminology, forensics, archeology, etc. These fields may not however realize they are implicitly using it and have been for centuries since they haven’t read his stuff nor systematized their design inferences into mathematical language.

    Information theory can be mathematically explicated. The Design Inference does not throw a god blanket over gaps of ignorance, nor appeal to magic. It merely details what we know to be information and what distinguishes information from chance, complexity, or specificity. Information theory becomes ID when applied to fields like Biology, Biogenesis, and Cosmology. But don’t forget that Dembski has done some groundbreaking work that, even apart from ID applications, is a profoundly important contribution to the world–he has distinguished the features of information in a mathematically definable way. Sadly, many people will continue to ignore and dismiss that valuable insight because they think it all has to be bogged down with young earth creationism or that it requires the whole view of ID. It does not.

    Reply
  228. John Ferrer says:

    After reviewing my post, I suspect information theory, even apart from ID, is still offensive to some since it would seem to suggest intelligent causes among humans. And intelligence is not a mechanical cause, hence it doesn’t fit into a reductive schema of newtonian and quantum forces operating in deterministic fashion. Those who are strongly reductive in their materialism might not be able to stomach any intelligence whatsoever as that does not easy reduce to a Newtonian force, or a Quantum principle. Intelligence is a different beast from nature or nurture, it is a thinking and willful beast.

    Reply
  229. Ed says:

    I asked you before to present some real evidence that Jesus Christ actually existed. Instead you once again committed the logical fallacy known as “An Appeal to Authority.” I could list about 20 or 30 scholars who have said that Jesus of Nazareth never existed or cite books such as the Messiah Myth by Thomas Thompson or The Pagan Christ by Tom Harpur that make that case and very well I might add. That doesn’t prove anything except that my position is a lot more widely held than you are saying. I say there is no evidence that Jesus Christ ever existed. I’ve seen what Christian apologists claim as secular evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ and it’s a joke. I can’t accept hearsay accounts from historians who weren’t even born until decades after Jesus was supposedly crucified such as those from Pliny, Tacitus, Suetonius and Josephus. Can you supply us with some evidence from outside the Bible that Jesus Christ actually existed? I say you cannot and your case for a historical Jesus is just as flimsy as your case for Intelligent Design Magic.

    Reply
  230. Toby R. says:

    “Those same reviewers revoked their positive reviews and castigated Dembski, not because of his math, but because of the supernaturalistic possibilities it allows when applied to biology. ”

    Yes, Dembski another martyr for the cause. “The concept of specified complexity is widely regarded as mathematically unsound and has not been the basis for further independent work in information theory, complexity theory, or biology.” Try googling and reading HOW ANTI-EVOLUTIONISTS ABUSE MATHEMATICS, an article from James Madison University.

    Could anyone at this site enlighten us skeptics about the value of ID? It really does reduce everything to a list titled, “How is it all explained?” and under that title is a single word, God, with a check mark beside it. Where does information theory (at least the part of it that’s been drug through the mud of theistic philosophy) stop? “Look, there’s a rock! It’s atomic structure is so complex that it must have been designed!”

    “But don’t forget that Dembski has done some groundbreaking work that, even apart from ID applications, is a profoundly important contribution to the world–he has distinguished the features of information in a mathematically definable way.”

    How can anyone defend Dembski, a man who co-wrote an article called Jesus Tomb Math. This is a farce. This is same as Ed, Tim, Nathan, Luke and I writing an article claiming to make “mathematical” calculations and probabilities on how many bristles our toothbrushes loose in the course of month and if any of our bristles will end up mingling at a sewage treatment plant. You make BS math up for anything. I can ascribe intelligent design to a molecule of water, a rock, a rain storm, or a fart.

    Reply
  231. Nathan barley says:

    “still offensive to some since it would seem to suggest intelligent causes among humans. And intelligence is not a mechanical cause…”

    John, I already explained – replace intelligence with supernatural throughout the para I quote from above and you’re closer to the problem. Ignoring this is close to equivocation.

    Reply
  232. Toby R. says:

    How do ID creationists describe the universe in terms of thermodynamics? Specifically, what type of system is the universe. It’s assumed to be an isolated system, one in which is completely self contained (no temperature is lost to whatever surrounds it). The other systems are closed and open. An open system is one in which matter, energy, and heat can come in and go out of the system. A closed system is one in which matter remains constant (it can’t enter or leave the system), but energy and heat can be exchanged.

    So it seems that an ID created universe should be either open or closed. In order for the “miracles” to occur there must be energy put into the system from outside the system. Any manipulation of the system would require this to be so. One would think this would leave physically observable traces behind . . . which so far hasn’t been the case. When a grilled cheese sandwich turns up with an image of William Lane Craig maybe a satellite would pick up a radiation signature.

    ID doesn’t seem to address how these manipulations happen and as far as I can tell doesn’t really give a crud beyond, “ID (god) did it! Now shut up and believe it.”

    If the universe is truly an isolated system then nothing that goes on inside of it could be effected by anything outside of it. To do so would mean that energy is being applied to the system and that makes it not an isolated system. Now if ID creationist are going to claim that this is an isolated system and miracles can still occur, then they have to come up with some sort of evidence for how supernatural energy can manipulate our universe.

    ID has no explaining power than a spaceless, timeless, immaterial something that can poke it’s finger here and there at will making changes in our universe system that doesn’t violate, in an observable way, our physical laws.

    Reply
  233. Ed says:

    John,
    I think you owe the bloggers here a defense for your highly contentious claim that Jesus can be known by the far and wide witness of history, among believers and non-believers, religious and irreligious, across the globe. History knows absolutely NOTHING of Jesus of Nazareth and that statement stands unless you can refute it. You can’t and you won’t.

    Reply
  234. Toby R. says:

    Ed, try putting your comment in one of the Is The New Testament True posts. Otherwise frank will scold us for being off topic and it gives the blog posters excuse to not answer questions related to the current post. Wouldn’t want to give anyone an out!

    Reply
  235. Frank Turek says:

    Toby and Ed,

    Far too much emotion in your posts– “BS” “Magic” “Farts” (although my boys really like that last one!). You protest too much. Any yes, Toby is correct. Try to stay on topic. Discuss the historical Jesus question elsewhere.

    Nathan and John,

    I think Nathan is asking the right question. We all agree that ID makes sense for archaeology, forensic criminal investigations, SETI, your posts, etc. Correct? Does anyone disagree with that? I can’t see how. By intelligently replying you would be proving the point.

    The real question is this: “Is it legitimate for a scientist to posit that a supernatural intelligence is responsible for the fine-tuning of the universe and the numerous aspects of living things that even Richard Dawkins admits ‘appear’ to be designed?” Perhaps John and Nathan could discuss that with a series of short posts going back and forth.

    Sorry I don’t have time right now to participate further.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  236. Nathan barley says:

    “We all agree that ID makes sense for archaeology, forensic criminal investigations, SETI, your posts, etc. Correct? ”

    And we would all agree that the supernatural has no part in any of those things.

    Reply
  237. TobyR. says:

    “Frank has almost single handedly destroyed my christian faith.”

    Whoa. I bet he doesn’t put that on his resume.

    “Far too much emotion in your posts– “BS” “Magic” “Farts” (although my boys really like that last one!).”

    Oh, come on. Admit that it gave you a chuckle too. I’ll give it to you that farts can be designed. I can design some with the proper diet of beans and cabbage.

    Reply
  238. John Ferrer says:

    Everyone who dismisses cumulative complexity as if is information theory is whacking a straw man. I don’t remember which of you wrote about the complexity of rock as evidence of design–that is not even ID, I’d dismiss that too. Understand ID first otherwise your dismissal misplaced.

    Ed, I can cite just as many conspiracy theorists who support the 9/11 truther movement. Counting skeptics is hardly evidence that a doubt is justified. There are thousands and thousands of Scientologists who reject atheism, does that lend credence to scientology? No, one must weigh the evidence. And the evidence of Jesus of Nazareth is about as strong as most any character in ancient history. if one applies the criterion of history fairly and honestly, there is little doubt that Jesus existed. That is, presume evidence innocent until proven guilty. Grant respective credence to enemy attestation, multiple attestation, antiquity, proximity, avoid informal logical fallacies, etc. You named some of the ancient and enemy sources that you reject, the same kind of sources whereby we know that King Herod or Nero existed, do you likewise reject EVERYTHING OF HISTORY that is attested to equally or less than Jesus of Nazareth? I’m not arguing for Jesus as Christ, but just the historical Jesus. Anthony Flew (early), Thomas Payne, Bertrand Russel, and J.L. Mackie, and David Hume–some real intellectual atheists–never would have uttered such conspiracy theories. Beware that you don’t reduce your atheism to low grade antagonistic skepticism or gullible conspiracism (Is that a word?).

    ID, even if it is false–remember I”m not here arguing that it’s true, is a lot more substantial than you guys seem to think. And given the consistent misrepresentation among you guys I see why you dismiss it. What you think is “ID” I’d dismiss it too.

    nathan, I’m sure you already explained, but maybe I’m not understanding you. Are you saying even human intelligence is merely some accrual through Newtonian forces (after all, Newtonian mechanics in its 4 forces are still the only 4 forces granted even within Quantum theory correct?)? If human intelligence is merely cumulative complexity through newtonian forces acting on matter I fail to see why I should think anything anyone ever says–by way of their intelligence–qualifies as “truth.” Matter and Information (especially “true” information) are categorically different. I can’t recall meeting a single materialist yet who understands the category mistake involved in leaping from matter to information. The only one I can recall who got it is now a deist. Moreoften I find materialists wanting to reduce even human intelligence to mechanistic determinism.

    I’m not even appealing to supernature here, just something besides strict materialism. Information theory demands that one appreciate the account for the observable distinction between any set of letters and their meaning, between words and semantics, between specified complexity and the information it can communicate, between genetics and interpretation of their order. Perhaps materialists need to recognize the full breadth and depth that naturalism allows–such as atheist David Armstrong’s admission of universals–so that they don’t have to pretend that language is just ink on paper, and assume that describing the shape of ink lines is identical to reading their writing.

    So far, nothing you guys have said offers a better account of observed information than what Demski has written. to the contrary, I’m not sure many people commenting even understand the notion of “specified complexity.” It is not an innately supernatural idea. Nor is it cumulative complexity. And most every analogy you guys have given so far does not analogize it but rather presumes creationism or falls into cumulative complexity. till you understand it, and can speak to it, you are shooting right past the meat of my argument.

    Reply
  239. John Ferrer says:

    Ed, this is for you. this Bart Ehrman famous NT Scholar and Atheist, a fan favorite for quotes among atheists. Here’s what he has to say about your denial that jesus existed. He IS a scholar, well published, well regarded among his peers, is well attested by peer review and teaches at UNC Chapel Hill.

    “What about those writers like Acharya S (The Christ Conspiracy) and Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy (The Jesus Mysteries), who say that Jesus never existed, and that Christianity was an invented religion, the Jewish equivalent of the Greek mystery religions? This is an old argument, even though it shows up every 10 years or so. This current craze that Christianity was a mystery religion like these other mystery religions-the people who are saying this are almost always people who know nothing about the mystery religions; they’ve read a few popular books, but they’re not scholars of mystery religions. The reality is, we know very little about mystery religions-the whole point of mystery religions is that they’re secret! So I think it’s crazy to build on ignorance in order to make a claim like this. I think the evidence is just so overwhelming that Jesus existed, that it’s silly to talk about him not existing. I don’t know anyone who is a responsible historian, who is actually trained in the historical method, or anybody who is a biblical scholar who does this for a living, who gives any credence at all to any of this.”

    Bart Ehrman, interview with David V. Barrett, “The Gospel According to Bart”, Fortean Times (221), 2007

    Reply
  240. John Ferrer says:

    Nathan, I’m not sure what you mean by the “equivocation” between intelligence and supernature. By equivocation is meant one word with two means presented duplicitously or ambiguously. I use those terms distinctly. I shifted my point to human intelligence and pointed out how reductive materialism, leaning overwhelmingly on newtonian and quantum mechanics is handicapped for addressing an non-mechanical cause, namely volitional human intelligence.

    Intelligent design forces this line of questioning to the forefront. And as long as evolutionists keep forcing ID to the back of the bus, they will never get it’s assistance in addressing this glaring blind spot–this gap between mechanical and intelligent causes. Without some form of information theory, I don’t see how you can address it.

    Reply
  241. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek said: We all agree that ID makes sense for archaeology, forensic criminal investigations, SETI, your posts, etc. Correct?

    I think that really depends on how you define “ID.”

    Depending on what exactly you mean, I may agree, but I most likely do not.

    Reply
  242. Luke says:

    John said: And given the consistent misrepresentation among you guys I see why you dismiss it. What you think is “ID” I’d dismiss it too.

    John, I am not sure if you saw my earlier post, but what sources are you relying on to make the claims in your original post (and some subsequent comments) about information theory, what it is and is not, and what sciences rely on it (what sciences IT is a staple of), etc. Are you using sources interested in proving ID and by ID theorists, or sources by information theorists who are (at least academically) agnostic on the ID issue?

    I am still trying to follow your learning process here.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  243. Toby R. says:

    I found a very thoughtful video that takes on ID and irreducible complexity. For those that don’t want to wait for moderation go to youtube and search for “Irreducible complexity cut down to size”. The link will be posted below.

    Reply
  244. Ed says:

    Everyone who dismisses cumulative complexity as if is information theory is whacking a straw man. I don’t remember which of you wrote about the complexity of rock as evidence of design–that is not even ID, I’d dismiss that too. Understand ID first otherwise your dismissal misplaced.

    Response: Complex material systems exhibit a purely natural process known as self-organization and this occurs in both living and non-living systems. So science does explain the complexity of a rock. How come ID cannot? I would say because the complexity of a rock doesn’t have the major theological implications the complexity of life does. This is why ID proponents don’t complain that gravity is “only a theory” or seek to explain atomic theory. ID only seeks to explain things that have theological implications, which one way we know ID is religion and not science.

    ID, even if it is false–remember I”m not here arguing that it’s true, is a lot more substantial than you guys seem to think. And given the consistent misrepresentation among you guys I see why you dismiss it. What you think is “ID” I’d dismiss it too.

    Response: We know what ID is: creationism poorly disguised. The book I mentioned Of Pandas and People proved that beyond any question. You haven’t responded to that but instead have moved right on as if no objections to your claims had been made at all.

    Matter and Information (especially “true” information) are categorically different. I can’t recall meeting a single materialist yet who understands the category mistake involved in leaping from matter to information. The only one I can recall who got it is now a deist. More often I find materialists wanting to reduce even human intelligence to mechanistic determinism.

    Response: I haven’t meant a super naturalist who understands the category mistake in assuming intelligence can even arise or exist without matter. Observation tells us it cannot so there is absolutely no basis for Intelligent Design to begin with. Your argument is Christian arrogance gone into orbit. As if there’s some magical understanding you have that if only others could grasp they too would believe – if only half way.

    I’m not even appealing to supernature here, just something besides strict materialism. Information theory demands that one appreciate the account for the observable distinction between any set of letters and their meaning, between words and semantics, between specified complexity and the information it can communicate, between genetics and interpretation of their order.

    Response: We already showed that information, as Dembski describes it, is the same as negative entropy.

    Perhaps materialists need to recognize the full breadth and depth that naturalism allows–such as atheist David Armstrong’s admission of universals–so that they don’t have to pretend that language is just ink on paper, and assume that describing the shape of ink lines is identical to reading their writing.

    Response: And this mumbo jumbo and gobbledygook relates to ID being science how exactly?

    So far, nothing you guys have said offers a better account of observed information than what Demski has written. to the contrary, I’m not sure many people commenting even understand the notion of “specified complexity.”

    Response: The people commenting don’t matter. The people who do matter, scientists, have refuted Dembski’s work and these refutations are available for the general public in books and on the Internet. You should avail yourself to them rather than trying to defend the indefensible. I mean why bother making claims that anyone can easily find rebuttals to on the Internet, which is all you are doing?

    It is not an innately supernatural idea. Nor is it cumulative complexity.
    And most every analogy you guys have given so far does not analogize it but rather presumes creationism or falls into cumulative complexity. till you understand it, and can speak to it, you are shooting right past the meat of my argument.

    Response: Your argument is that Intelligent Design is science. We have shot your arguments full of holes and you have patently ignored the clear refutations of your claims.

    Nathan, I’m not sure what you mean by the “equivocation” between intelligence and supernature. By equivocation is meant one word with two means presented duplicitously or ambiguously. I use those terms distinctly. I shifted my point to human intelligence and pointed out how reductive materialism, leaning overwhelmingly on newtonian and quantum mechanics is handicapped for addressing an non-mechanical cause, namely volitional human intelligence.

    Response: Science explains human intelligence just fine. It’s human stupidity that remains a mystery.
    Intelligent design forces this line of questioning to the forefront.

    Response: Oh please. Intelligent Design has no effect on the way science is done and it never will.

    And as long as evolutionists keep forcing ID to the back of the bus, they will never get it’s assistance in addressing this glaring blind spot–this gap between mechanical and intelligent causes. Without some form of information theory, I don’t see how you can address it.

    Response: Scientists will never need the assistance of people telling them not to bother looking for answers because after all, God did it. Intelligent Design isn’t being forced to the back of the bus. Rather ID is trying to cut in line. ID proponents have not generated acceptable scientific work, nor have they set forth accurate predictions based on their work. Their theoretical proposal is really theological and it is made to an audience of citizens, not to the scientific community. The central strategy of ID’s preachers is to appeal to the public and charge that scientists are unfair, biased, close-minded, and protective of a bankrupt theory. The scientific community has responded, and continues to respond, by pointing out that the advocates of ID doctrine are attempting to cut in line by not conducting and reporting acceptable scientific work.

    Now Frank doesn’t want us to discuss the question of a historical Jesus. However just like I said, you were unable to produce even one tiny shred of evidence to support you case. Case closed.

    Reply
  245. Nathan Barley says:

    ” If human intelligence is merely cumulative complexity through newtonian forces acting on matter I fail to see why I should think anything anyone ever says–by way of their intelligence–qualifies as “truth.””

    John, this is a complete non sequitur. It’s one of the strangest arguments against evolution that I’ve ever heard. We’ve evolved brains to help us survive. A brain that didn’t help us to understand reality would be less useful than a brain that did. We have also developed methods to get as close to the truth as we can.

    My point stands on your equivocation of ‘intelligence’ and ‘supernatural’. If you can’t address it (sorry I haven’t got time to wade through all your long responses above), then this discussion is not going to go anywhere.

    Reply
  246. John Ferrer says:

    Nathan, as for your first point, I recommend Alvin Plantinga’s work on the “Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism.” In principle, he points out that many lies work better than the truth and since evolution has no bias for or against truth but only survival, there is no categorical inclusion of “truth” as preferable to lies. I can illustrate this with most of the world’s religions. They have evolutionary value and abide whether or not they are true but because they aid in survival by promoting family, ethical interactions, hope, perceived meaningfulness to life and to suffering, etc. And for all the evil that can be done in the name of religion, there are arguably more existential benefits to being religious even though most of the world’s religions are false. Darwin could have predicted this by applying natural selection to religion. If what you say is correct about the correlation of truth and natural selection then we should be granting truth status to the world’s religions that have survived for long ages. I assume you disagree, right?

    As for your second point, I’ll have to wait for your response because–and this is ironic–I think we are equivocating on “equivocation.” I genuinely do not understand your objection and need clarification on the point.

    Ed, the keenest thing you said above is: “We already showed that information, as Dembski describes it, is the same as negative entropy.

    ‘Perhaps materialists need to recognize the full breadth and depth that naturalism allows–such as atheist David Armstrong’s admission of universals–so that they don’t have to pretend that language is just ink on paper, and assume that describing the shape of ink lines is identical to reading their writing.’

    Response: And this mumbo jumbo and gobbledygook relates to ID being science how exactly?”

    Be describing information as negative entropy that is like describing lines on paper. It addresses information in terms of Newtonian-type forces, and is mechanical. Yet information is not purely mechanical. It is identified by its material symbols such as letters, pictures, or DNA sequences, etc. but information operates in non-mechanical ways all the time. What energy measurement would we use to measure the power of the idea of “freedom of speech”? How much does an thought weigh? What space does the meaning of the declaration of independence occupy? Information is not strictly material. Information theory (not even applying it in an ID context yet) points out the inadequacy of that “negative entropy” explanation since there is an immaterial, yet real, phenomenon happening there that no amount of material description can account for. There is needed a different category of understanding for that phenomenon namely interpretation. Information is not just ink on paper, the material features are purely accidental and could, in principle, be translated into any materials–shaped rocks, binary code, genetic sequences, pictogram, etc.–and stay the same information. Materialism, as far as I know, has no way of addressing this real, common, and important distinction between matter and immaterial information.

    BTW, the above is not really an ID argument just a discussion on the nature of Information. That basic seems necessary to even understand the importance of Information theory.

    Lastly, I’m not denying the notion of “irreducible complexity” I’m just focusing on the “specified complexity” notion of information theory. I’m still not sure people understand how the latter is a robust definition of information whereas the former is not. The former has value, and is simpler to understand and illustrate biologically. The latter gives a better mechanism (conceptually) for addressing the subtleties of information as it might appear in the coding of biological life.

    Reply
  247. Nathan Barley says:

    I recommend Alvin Plantinga’s work on the “Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism.”

    Yes, I’ve read it – I recognised your last post as summarising it. Plantinga’s argument plain and simple doesn’t work. We could have a very long discussion about it, but it would be wondering off the topic. In (very) short, he completely ignores the way the scientific method works as a method for establishing truth and what works. We use this method, it’s the best method we currently have. It produces testable results. But there are many other problems with his argument.

    “As for your second point, I’ll have to wait for your response because–and this is ironic–I think we are equivocating on “equivocation.” I genuinely do not understand your objection and need clarification on the point.”

    I’ll try again. You – and Frank – keep saying “We have ID in these other disciplines, so why not in biology”. Then you mention a bunch of disciplines. What you miss is that in none of those disciplines do we allow for the supernatural. In fact, none of them would even WORK if we allowed for the supernatural. Forensic science, for example, depends on consistent behaviour in nature. So it’s missing the point to say that we’re objecting to the idea of intelligence, when the objection is to the supernatural, which DOES have no point in those other disciplines.

    Reply
  248. Nathan Barley says:

    I’ve emailed you privately John, but for others I would recommend the Reasonable Doubts podcast for their discussion of Plantinga’s argument. Google “plantinga schmantinga” and you should be able to find Episode 23 of their podcast.

    “If what you say is correct about the correlation of truth and natural selection then we should be granting truth status to the world’s religions that have survived for long ages.”

    Another non sequitur.

    You’re trying to get from the statement
    “It is beneficial to understand that lions can hurt you, so one would expect lion-prey to evolve evasion tactics”, to
    “If believing that Allah punishes rapists in the afterlife stops Muslims raping, that means Allah must exist”.

    Let’s take Plantinga’s example of cavemen chased by lions. Evolving a way of understanding and recognising the genuine threat of predators is a much more efficient way of surviving than accidentally evolving incorrect but beneficial ideas about every possible threat. Plantinga offers bizarre strawmen such as evolution favouring a caveman (Paul) who only runs away from lions because he thinks they are playing a game with him. Aside from the fact that Paul would be at a big disadvantage to cavemen who had the ability to reason and work out the true measure of a situation, Paul would realise he was wrong the very first time he saw a lion tearing apart one of his tribe.

    Frankly, Plantinga’s argument is so poor it’s embarrassing.

    Reply
  249. Toby R. says:

    “describing information as negative entropy that is like describing lines on paper. It addresses information in terms of Newtonian-type forces, and is mechanical. Yet information is not purely mechanical. It is identified by its material symbols such as letters, pictures, or DNA sequences, etc. but information operates in non-mechanical ways all the time.”

    Nature has no need for information. Information is the human brain’s way to categorize nature.

    “How much does an thought weigh? What space does the meaning of the declaration of independence occupy?”

    I’ve said this before here and I’m sure it’s getting tiresome (for both sides). If one new the number and types of neurotransmitters used to store a particular thought, then you could calculate this by the molecular weights of the molecules. Seems a little inelegant though. I would think you might also want to add a function to the equation that would include the amount of energy used. As I said, I’ve said this here before. The most response I think I’ve gotten is essentially (paraphrased and tersely put), “these things aren’t material”, and no real backup to it.

    “You – and Frank – keep saying “We have ID in these other disciplines, so why not in biology”. Then you mention a bunch of disciplines. What you miss is that in none of those disciplines do we allow for the supernatural. In fact, none of them would even WORK if we allowed for the supernatural.”

    Very true. In fact you could also rephrase it to say that these disciplines wouldn’t work whatsoever without human intelligence whatsoever, on either end. In the case of SETI, human on one end, some analogous intelligence on the other. And these wouldn’t exist if a human, or equivalent, intelligence didn’t evolve.

    “I don’t remember which of you wrote about the complexity of rock as evidence of design–that is not even ID, I’d dismiss that too. “

    I mentioned rocks. It’s been said here that DNA is a language, a code and hence an intelligently created thing. But if you say that, then what is to stop you from saying that the crystalline structure of a rock, such as table salt, displays information? The only difference between the rock and DNA is . . . not much of anything. Each are composed of atoms that, by the nature of the angle at which their atoms bond with each other, and how many bonds each atom can make, effects the final structure of the molecule. So using the ID creationists analogy of DNA being a language why isn’t it also said the structure of table salt (a lattice work of atoms that you could show as this:

    Na+ = N
    Cl- = C

    and the structure being:

    …N-C-N-C-N…
    ….| | | | |…
    …C-N-C-N-C…
    ….| | | | |…
    …N-C-N-C-N…
    etc.

    Why doesn’t that fit into the information part of intelligent design?

    Reply
  250. Toby R. says:

    That diagram of table salt didn’t translate well in html. The vertical lines attach letters from one row to the letters beneath.

    Here’s some nonID science that I heard about a few weeks ago. It’s from Robert Hazen and Dominic Papineau of the Carnegie Institute’s Geophysical Laboratory. They’ve written a paper titled Mineral Evolution.

    You can listen to the radio broadcast and read the abstract on the NPR Morning Edition website (google: My Grandson The Rock) and you can also google: Mineral Kingdom Has Co-Evolved With Life, Scientists Find. Though these do not address a cause of life, they show how even nonliving minerals have evolved right along with life.

    My own thoughts here, but it seems to put a dent into any form of creationist. If we can imagine some form of abiogenesis occurring on the early planet, even the most simplest of self-replicating molecules forming could also effect the environment around them, changing it, making it more suitable for the chemical to evolve. Add to that the constant energy being pushed into the system by the sun and heat of the core of the planet and so on, and you have a system with so much energy to push simpler molecules in motion into less and less simple molecules in motion.

    Links will be in the post below. Possibly moderated before New Years.

    Reply
  251. Frank Turek says:

    You all believe in ID. Intelligent agent causation is obvious in many scientific disciplines as already stated. The only question that Nathan rightly poses is a philosophical one– does science allow for intelligent agent causation from outside of nature? It depends on how you define “science.” Who gets to define “science?”

    John’s 9th and 10th points in the original post touch on this. Maybe he could expand.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  252. Ed says:

    Materialism, as far as I know, has no way of addressing this real, common, and important distinction between matter and immaterial information.

    Response: You failed to address the point that immaterial information cannot exist without matter. You failed to address the point that intelligence cannot exist without matter. And you have failed to acknowledge that the Christian Intelligent Design hoax collapsed forever in a U.S. court of law where it received the death sentence years ago.

    Reply
  253. Nathan Barley says:

    Here we go again:

    Frank: “Intelligent agent causation is obvious in many scientific disciplines as already stated.”

    … and, as already stated, the supernatural is obviously absent from all of them. And necessarily so, as none would work with the supernatural. So Frank and John need to explain why they think that biology should be the one exception.

    BTW, SETI is not a scientific discipline. One can USE science to investigate SETI, but it is not in and of itself a scientific discipline, any more than searching for the Loch Ness Monster is.

    Reply
  254. Luke says:

    John said:I’m just focusing on the “specified complexity” notion of information theory.

    John, I have now read tens of thousands of words on information theory.

    I have not found one mention of “specified complexity” as part of information theory that was not a source whose first goal was to promote intelligent design (and even those are not all that common).

    Can you please provide some source, just a single article in some peer reviewed math journal for this claim? (The claim being that specified complexity is an accepted part of information theory, and not a controversial part of ID, which is itself controversial.)

    If I type specified complexity into google, then start adding in, google autocompletes intelligent design, not information theory. Even when I add informa… google does not autocomplete it. When I type it in manually, I can find nothing backing up this claim.

    The first result is wikipedia, which includes the following statement, backed by 3 separate sources, one of which is a peer reviewed math journal. (Though I would not consider it a top-tier.)

    The concept of specified complexity is widely regarded as mathematically unsound and has not been the basis for further independent work in information theory, complexity theory, or biology.

    Of the first two pages of results, all I see are either mathematical or theoretical dismissals of Dembski’s work, articles which mention information theory only to say that Dembski’s definitions are different than those used in info theory, articles by Dembski himself, or articles that just don’t mention info theory (I am not sure why they came up.)

    So again, I am having a really hard time tracking down your learning path (what I mean is, the sources you used which taught you the information you are presenting to us.) You present as fact things which I am completely unable to verify.

    Luke

    Reply
  255. Luke says:

    Frank Turek said:You all believe in ID. Intelligent agent causation is obvious in many scientific disciplines as already stated.

    Perhaps it’s obvious, but could you please cite some disinterested scientific sources to back your claim?

    (By disinterested, I mean sources which are not trying to promote ID.)

    As I have said, I have tried to trace these claims and have found not a single reliable source backing this claim.

    I have found things which contradict the things you and John are saying. For example here is a quote from a SETI’s Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer and host of a SETI radio show.

    In fact, the signals actually sought by today’s SETI searches are not complex, as the ID advocates assume. We’re not looking for intricately coded messages, mathematical series, or even the aliens’ version of “I Love Lucy.” Our instruments are largely insensitive to the modulation–or message–that might be conveyed by an extraterrestrial broadcast. A SETI radio signal of the type we could actually find would be a persistent, narrow-band whistle. Such a simple phenomenon appears to lack just about any degree of structure

    (emphasis mine)

    Also, you and John seen to be using the terms information theory and intelligent design interchangeably now. (He claims in the article that info theory underlies these disciplines, the claim you now make of ID.)

    They are not the same thing!

    I posted this earlier, but here is a definition of information theory given by Encyclopedia Britannica: Information Theory is a field of mathematics that studies the problems of signal transmission, reception, and processing.

    Their definition of intelligent design is: an argument intended to demonstrate that living organisms were created in more or less their present forms by an “intelligent designer.”

    Again, they are not the same thing.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  256. Toby R. says:

    In response to point nine:

    I don’t think science denies the possibility of non-human intelligence at all. I think the line in the sand here is on your side you claim that intelligence is supernatural. Any observable activity activity in the universe is by definition natural. It may not be explainable by current methods and technology (many things in physics are yet unexplainable, but we don’t throw up our hands and say, “Well, it must be the ghost of Jacob Marley doing it.”). . . . anyone else every wondered what A Christmas Carol would be like if they substituted Jacob Marley with Bob Marley? . . . I can’t be the only one.

    Point ten:

    I think there is quite a difference between philosophers of science and scientists. I don’t know that this problem of demarcation would exist if philosophy weren’t insinuating itself into research science. If philosophers wish to interject their theological ideas into the scientific method, then they must do the footwork and rigorously test their hypotheses. What it most often seems like is that philosophers want to force their armchair ideas and have science put them at the front of the line. Let the ID philosophers do their own research work on ID. I really don’t think they want to be published in peer reviewed journals. I’d imagine that they would be shredded and they know that they’d be shredded. Their argument is mystical. Let it stay mystical. Or else they can do the heavy lifting of research themselves and even god won’t help them if they falsify their results.

    Reply
  257. Luke says:

    Frank Turek said:We all agree that ID makes sense for archaeology, forensic criminal investigations, SETI, your posts, etc. Correct? Does anyone disagree with that? I can’t see how.

    As I said, I may well disagree.

    Are you familiar with the Monty Hall problem (hear me out on this, it will become related).

    Very simply it goes like this:

    You are on a game show. You are asked to select on of 3 doors. Behind one of the doors, a car has been randomly placed. Behind the other two door are goats.

    You choose a door, and the host then opens one of the other two doors, one which contains a goat. (This is mostly to heighten the drama.)

    You at this point have a chance to either keep your original door choice, or change it to the other remaining door.

    So you now have a choice of two doors, one contains a car, the other a goat.

    Should you switch or stay with the door you originally picked?

    Most people will say it matters not — there are two doors, the car has been randomly placed, so the chance is 50/50.

    The truth is, you dramatically increase your chances by switching doors.

    Many people simply don’t believe this, even when the math behind it is explained to them.

    I have personally explained it to many people, but my brain still does not fully believe it sometimes. It just seems so incorrect.

    Why do I bring this up? Our brain is very complex. The way we make decisions about things, such as the chance of winning the car, is not always rational.

    Are you saying that the only way I decide whether the posts here marked as “Frank Turek” have intelligence behind them is by looking at their specified complexity?

    As far as I am aware, it has never entered the decision making process for me. I am able to make that decision long before even evaluating the criteria you propose, and Occam makes your criteria fully unnecessary.

    But sure, when you say it, I may feel inclined to agree. It makes a lot of sense.

    Just because I may be inclined to agree does not mean you are correct though. Just as I would be very inclined to agree if you told me my chances of winning the car were 50/50 and it mattered not if I switched doors.

    I do not believe that an archeologist coming across a clay pot evaluates it in the way you propose.

    I don’t believe the starting point is “is this the product of intelligence?”

    The fact is people still make pots. We know (not through archeology) people made pots a hundred years ago. We know (not through archeology) that people made pots five hundred years ago, etc.

    If we run across a pot that seems to be twenty-five hundred years old, the hypothesis of it being made by people is the most sensible.

    If we have a long history and line of people making pots, when we find another pot which fits in the line chronologically and functionally (we know the problems which lead people to make pots), we don’t say “oh is this design?” we see that it fits in our line, and if it does that becomes the default hypothesis unless proven otherwise.

    Occam’s razor eliminates the need for any ID theories being involved.

    The same thing is true of SETI. (You can read the article from Dr. Shostak of SETI by googling the quote I posted earlier for more information.)

    If I can bring in one more example, which I think Nathan has brought up before, but if I am shown a snowflake under a microscope and I have no idea what it is, or any context behind it, it seems I would assume it was designed. It is quietly beautiful in a way few things are (especially the flower shape that often is present in the middle).

    Yet, knowing about snowflakes, I don’t look at that apparent design and think designer. I know how and why it appears the way it does.

    The fact that my brain so easily dismisses design in that case, but may accept it in the other cases you mention (like your posts), means the latter is more of an artifact of the way our brains make connections and strive to understand things, not a validation of ID theory.

    To take an illustration of yours, if you were walking in a forest and came across an object made of (what seemed like) rock, which was patterned exactly like a snowflake, would you assume that nature or intelligence made it?

    I am going to go out on a limb and say you’d assume some intelligent agent.

    But why?

    We know that nature alone, through mechanical forces is able to “design” this very shape!

    The fact that you would (I believe, correct me if I am wrong) accept nature and mechanical forces behind a design in one case, but assume intelligence behind the exact same design and pattern in another case tells us that it’s not the complexity and arrangement of the matter which you’re using to make the judgment.

    This illustration in my mind invalidates the paradigm you’ve been trying to set up.

    Luke

    Reply
  258. Nathan barley says:

    Frank Turek said:You all believe in ID. Intelligent agent causation is obvious in many scientific disciplines as already stated.

    It’s not so much ‘obvious in many scientific disciplines, more that one can use the scientific method to investigate many things. It’s a stretch to get from:
    1. We can use the scientific method to investigate blood splatter from a miser victim to establish weaopen use.
    To :
    Therefore it is as valid to assert that the supernatural is responsible for a something observed in nature, such as gnomes are responsible for making snow flakes.
    The first point has nothing to do with the second.

    Reply
  259. Tim D. says:

    You all believe in ID.

    Not as it’s been defined here, no, I don’t believe in “intelligent design.” You are rather grossly equivocating.

    Do I believe that intelligent minds can design things? Of course. But that’s not the same thing as “Intelligent Design,” the pseudoscience. ID is more than a statement that intelligent minds can design things.

    Do I believe that intelligent minds (or the data within) have to be created by intelligent minds? Of course not; then no intelligent mind or data could exist (because it would require a pre-existing mind and data, which itself would require a pre-existing mind and data, so on and so forth). That would be like saying that sugar can only form in sugar; if the ingredient requires itself in order to begin to exist, then it can never exist due to infinite regress.

    Intelligent agent causation is obvious in many scientific disciplines as already stated.

    No. No it is not. You are equivocating between the above two terms.

    does science allow for intelligent agent causation from outside of nature? It depends on how you define “science.” Who gets to define “science?”

    1) If you provide that something exists which is not “nature,” we will be able to discuss that.

    2) Science already has been defined as the study of natural phenomena. You can’t just come and change the definition of “science” to suit your political agenda! :/

    Reply
  260. Nathan barley says:

    Sorry for the typos – on my iPod I’m typing blind after the first four lines.

    It’s disingenuous to say this isn’t about God, as it could equally be aliens. If you didn’t believe ID supported evidence for a deity, you would’t be pushing it on an apologist website and the Discovery Institute wouldn’t be trying to get it into schools!

    Reply
  261. Nathan barley says:

    From yesterday, PZ Myers on Michael Behe:
    once gave a lecture in which I summarized Intelligent Design arguments as simply repeating the word complexity a lot. I was wrong; I left out a word. They also use the word “purpose” a lot.

    The latest example of the same tired old nonsense comes from Michael Behe, who really is just repeating the same thing he’s said many times before — in fact, he’s said it so many times that at this point it’s clear his brain is not engaged, and this is a reflex action by his typing fingers.

    “My contention is that ‘the purposeful arrangement of parts’ to achieve a specific purpose is the criterion that enables us to recognise design.”

    Wow. Circular argument is circular. What is design? The purposeful arrangement of parts. How do you know it’s purposeful? Because it has a purpose. How do you know it has a purpose? Because it looks designed. Repeat.

    Let’s simplify his statement: “My contention is that things are purposeful because they achieve a specific purpose and that is the criterion that enables us to recognise purpose.” Yeah, that helps.

    He has a counterargument to evolution:

    The Darwinian alternative is to propose a phenomenon never observed anywhere, namely that complex machinery can assemble itself without any planning or direction.
    Yet we do observe that all over the place, in the operation of the cell. Unless, of course, he’s now going to claim that thermodynamically-driven cellular processes are actually led along by tiny little invisible agents of the Lord.

    Reply
  262. Frank Turek says:

    Tim,

    Many things are beyond nature: The Cause of Nature and the laws of logic are two of the more obvious examples.

    Who has defined “science” that way? We are back to philosophy now, aren’t we?

    Nathan,

    Agree totally. While we do posit intelligent causes inside of nature, at the end of the day, this is about God and the supernatural despite what some ID’ers say. I’ll elaborate more if I get time in the coming week.

    BTW, last I checked, the official Discovery.org position is NOT to teach ID in schools, but to point out the evidence for and against Darwinism.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  263. Nathan Barley says:

    “but to point out the evidence for and against Darwinism”

    I agree with this. If anyone FINDS any evidence against Natural Selection then it should be taught. Just like if anyone finds evidence that the moon landings were faked, or that George Washington never existed. But until such evidence appears…

    Reply
  264. Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    These forensic questions– such as the origin of life and new life forms– require interpreting the data. Thousands of scientists interpret the data as not supporting Darwinism. And even Darwinists admit that they disagree on how these things could happen– the mechanism is under question– but then they are quick to say that somehow we know it happened naturally. If they don’t know HOW it happened naturally, how do they know THAT it happened naturally?

    In effect, they insist that macroevolution is true because they assume naturalism is true. That is begging the question and circular reasoning.

    Gotta go. I hope to get back to a the ID/God issue later.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  265. TobyR. says:

    “Many things are beyond nature: The Cause of Nature and the laws of logic are two of the more obvious examples.”

    Does anyone here, other than Frank, find that this is obvious?

    Both things are statements of theological philosophy. You’re positing that the universe had a cause, with a capital C, being some deity. You’re also claiming that this deity set up these laws of logic and hence are themselves transcendent. I’m assuming you’re talking about Aristotle’s classic laws. But if you think about them they are completely bound by nature.

    something is itself — so . . . material must exist for something to be itself. If nothing existed then this is worthless.

    Something is what it is and not something else — this is the same as above.

    I don’t even know how to paraphrase the excluded middle, but — again it’s bound by material existing and without material then it means nothing.

    How can these be outside of nature? these do nothing but expound the definition of the verb to be. and language itself is a product of material.

    these three things are overexposed, overvalued, and overwrought bits of tedium that do nothing to help us practically understand the universe.

    Reply
  266. Tim D. says:

    Many things are beyond nature

    You cannot prove this, only offer philosophical equivocations.

    The Cause of Nature and the laws of logic are two of the more obvious examples.

    The laws of logic do not exist outside of our minds. So no, they are not beyond nature.

    Who has defined “science” that way? We are back to philosophy now, aren’t we?

    Who defined “definition?” Who defined “way?” Who defined “philosophy?”

    We can mince words all afternoon and get absolutely nowhere….I’m just quoting from the dictionary. While there are technical instances of the word “science” that indicate it can be used to describe a field which is not entirely, purely scientific, usually in a hyperbolic or poetic sense (i.e. “the science of art”), the by-and-large common-sense usage seems to be that it refers to one or more disciplines regarding natural study. From Dictionary.com:

    1.a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws;

    2.systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation;

    3.any of the branches of natural or physical science;

    4.systematized knowledge in general;

    5.knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study;

    6.a particular branch of knowledge;

    7.skill, esp. reflecting a precise application of facts or principles; proficiency.

    Thousands of scientists interpret the data as not supporting Darwinism.

    Thousands of people think that Neo Nazism is a good idea. Thousands of people think Obama is secretly a Muslim terrorist. How many people believe something is never a gauge of whether or not it is true.

    And even Darwinists admit that they disagree on how these things could happen– the mechanism is under question– but then they are quick to say that somehow we know it happened naturally. If they don’t know HOW it happened naturally, how do they know THAT it happened naturally?

    You don’t understand anything about natural selection. That natural selection and evolution take place is not up for debate. Anyone who challenges that it is is worthty of having his or her scientific credentials called into question. Natural selection and genetic evolution have been demonstrated, thousands upon thousands of times, in the lab and in natural habitats, in repeatable experiments that you yourself could go and duplicate given enough time and resources.

    I’m not even sure what you are referring to when you say “how it happened;” how what happened? Which mechanism of natural selection are you questioning? Nature itself provides, by mere existence, the means which determine what is most genetically “fit” for survival; that is what “natural selection” means. This is not contestable; it is simple fact — if you want to survive, you have to adapt to the conditions that threaten your survival. You can never, ever disprove that because it is demonstrably true. I challenge you to disprove it since you’re so sure that it’s not true ;/

    And since you say natural selection cannot be true, then I wonder, by what means do you believe survival is determined in nature? Do you think God magically decides which species will survive and when, and how? Do you think it’s guided by blatant magic or supernatural interference? If creatures do not compete with their prey and predators (and their environments) for the resources necessary to survive, then from where do you (scientifically) propose that those resources come? By what means are creatures in nature deemed “fit for survival,” if not by natural selection? It seems the only logical option.

    In effect, they insist that macroevolution is true because they assume naturalism is true. That is begging the question and circular reasoning.

    False. Macroevolution is proven (not “assumed”) to be true because it consistently explains natural phenomena in a way that no other explanation can.

    Macroevolution happens because it is the natural logical extreme of a long, sustained period of natural microevolution (both of which can and have been confirmed experimentally); common ancestry between what seem like completely different species is entirely possible given enough time for the accumulation of slight differential traits. I will try my best to explain simply.

    Consider each letter in the alphabet (A-Z) to represent a unique trait, determined by genetics. Now consider this following bundle of “traits” to be a single organism:

    ABC(DEF)

    The above bioform has traits “A,” “B” and “C” which are active, and traits “D,” “E” and “F” which are inactive (i.e. they are recessive genes taking a back seat, or they are “turned off” but nonetheless present in the DNA).

    Now, we can and have easily proven through experimentation that natural selection can have effects on “microevolution” — that the conditions of the environment, and of predators (or a lack thereof) has a sort of “filtering” effect on these traits. Which is to say, in a population where trait “E” is more helpful in surviving than any of the other traits, then individuals which have an active trait “E” will be more likely to survive than individuals without trait “E;” thus, over a period of several generations (this can happen quickly or slowly, depending on the type of organism and span of generations), the population will be “thinned” to contain a larger and larger percentage of individuals with trait “E” as opposed to the other traits, because individuals without the “E” trait will be less likely to survive (statistically, some of them might, but the proportions lean in favor of “E”-holders than “non-E-holders,” so as time goes by, “E”-holders become more common than “non-E-holders”). Eventually, the trait may become commonplace among the population, as common as the “A” or “B” or “C” by which the creature may have been originally defined (and as such, it may even become recognized as a different organism, or a “transitional species”).

    Okay, so we KNOW that the above scenario is possible — that natural conditions can independently and non-“intelligently” shape the individual traits of a population by “favoring” some traits over others — and so it follows naturally from this (even without considering any actual further evidence of macroevolution in action, such as the Lembski e. coli experiment), that if some traits can be affected and shaped by the environment, then others can be as well — and that this can happen in succession, over long periods of time, such that many changes “stack” on top of each other and build off of each other. If population can be shifted on even a small, “microevolutionary” scale to the point that it can be classified as biologically Variant in some way from the original, then what reason is there to say that this cannot continue to happen in further generations? We know that it happens; what reason is there to conclude that the process suddenly “stops” so many steps down the line?

    Going back to the ABC(DEF) example; let’s say natural selection causes a certain trait to die out of the population because that trait is no longer useful (or perhaps even a hindrance) for survival. Let’s say this happens to trait “A.” Even without considering for the possibility of even a single genetic mutation (a possibility which was observed in the e. coli experiment), due to the shuffling and recombination of dominant and recessive alleles through sexual selection, some formerly dominant genes may drift out of the fray while other formerly recessive ones may come to the forefront; this would leave us with an organism whose traits are less like “ABC(DEF)” and more like, say, “ADE(BFC).” Or some traits could be lost in the transition, streamlined by the selection process, leaving us with “AD(BC)” or some variant thereof. It’s safe to say that the creature bearing traits “AD(BC)” displays very different traits than the creature bearing traits “ABC(DEF).” It has only A and D in common with the original at all, and A is the only active (i.e. visible) trait it shares with its ancestor. So it may well be considered a different “species” at this point!

    Now….if you have a problem with that explanation, perhaps you could be more specific than you have been thus far? What point, exactly, do you believe is “impossible” or “up for debate” about the above explanation? What part of this style of evolutionary progress do you find to be “impossible” or “unlikely,” or even “unsubstantiated?” What “assumptions” are made based on the above example that cannot be reproduced by experimentation and demonstrated to be true? I would like to know what you think of that.

    Reply
  267. Frank Turek says:

    Tim,

    Micro evolution is just that… micro evolution. The extrapolation to macro evolution has NEVER been demonstrated. In fact, change is limited and cyclical (non-directional). The beaks on Darwin’s finches varied with the weather, and the origin of finches is never explained.

    Putting faith in long periods of time doesn’t seem to work either. Intelligent breeders working over thousands of generations of bacteria and fruit flies run into genetic limits. Using all their intelligence, they start with bacteria and fruit flies and they end with bacteria and fruit flies. So why do you expect non-intelligence processes to break genetic limits when intelligent breeders cannot?

    With regard to your claim that the laws of logic are just in our minds: if I just had my private ideas of the laws of logic and you just had your private ideas of the laws of logic, we could never communicate or understand one another. They have to exist independently and immovably beyond us in order for intelligible communication to take place.

    Before any of us existed, would the proposition, “No humans exist” be true?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  268. Toby R. says:

    “With regard to your claim that the laws of logic are just in our minds: if I just had my private ideas of the laws of logic and you just had your private ideas of the laws of logic, we could never communicate or understand one another. They have to exist independently and immovably beyond us in order for intelligible communication to take place.”

    This is completely and unequivocally doo-doo (I switched to that because the initials bs seemed to make you nervous and this is your blog and I’m here by your sufferance). And you proved it was doo-doo within the statement itself. We do have our own ideas of the laws of logic. You think they’re the bee’s knees and we think . . . eh, not so much.

    Take this line from above for instance:

    we could never communicate or understand one another.

    Your argument is completely against your ideas of THE LAWS OF LOGIC. You’re arguing, whether you realize it or not, that it’s not some immutable transcendent law that allows us to converse, but that it’s the ability of our brains to recognize, store, and process language. As I said before about Aristotle’s gooble-de-gook, it’s just definitions, it’s categorizing.

    Reply
  269. Toby R. says:

    “Before any of us existed, would the proposition, “No humans exist” be true?”

    Who precisely is making this proposition? If there is no intelligent life around to make this statement then the question is null.

    “Using all their intelligence, they start with bacteria and fruit flies and they end with bacteria and fruit flies. So why do you expect non-intelligence processes to break genetic limits when intelligent breeders cannot?”

    Do you think that in the years since people started messing with bacteria and fruit flies that they’ve even begun to scratch the surface of experimentation with genetics? Particularly I’m thinking of variation of environments. In Richard Lenski’s experiment it took nearly 20 years to get a mutation in E. coli that would allow it to utilize citrate. I don’t think you have a good grasp of microbiology, not that a philosopher should be expected to. If we picture a pure E. coli culture put into a broth and allowed to grow, reinnoculated into fresh broth daily, for 10 years, we would expect there to be little if any change. It’s only environmental stressors are applied that you’d hope to see genetic mutation and change.

    Why would you expect nonintelligent processes to work better? The sheer amounts of time coupled with the limitless variety in environmental stimuli, stressors, and adversity. The 100 or so years of futzing with these things that science has is next to nothing in terms of geologic time.

    In other news. An somewhat secretive announcement tomorrow from astrobiologists. Stay tuned.

    “NASA Sets News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery; Science Journal Has Embargoed Details Until 2 p.m. EST On Dec. 2

    WASHINGTON — NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.”

    Reply
  270. Nathan barley says:

    I don’t think the distinction or macro and micro evolution actually exists in science. Like ‘kind’, it’s an ill defined creationist invention.

    Reply
  271. Tim D. says:

    Micro evolution is just that… micro evolution. The extrapolation to macro evolution has NEVER been demonstrated. In fact, change is limited and cyclical (non-directional). The beaks on Darwin’s finches varied with the weather, and the origin of finches is never explained.

    1) The “origin of finches” is irrelevant; evolutionary theory is not meant to explain where organisms come from, only how they change with time.

    2) Yes, “macro-evolution” has been demonstrated. What are these “genetic limits” you are referring to? Like, specifically, what about the biology of the critters makes it “impossible” for them to evolve? If by that you mean, finches don’t suddenly “transform” into another species, then yes, of course that’s the case. Nobody has ever said otherwise. That’s not what “evolve” means.

    Evolution is not about transformation, it’s about biological digression. As demonstrated in the Lembski experiment (and just as profoundly in the Endler goldfish experiment), if you start with the same organism in multiple environments, then you will gradually see multiple digressions from the original organism — very slowly but very certainly. The traits shuffle, the mutation of even a single gene at any point during the population has the potential to introduce a drastic change in the survival potential of a certain class of the population. Allowed for enough time, it is simply logical (and requires no “faith” whatsoever, as the process is demonstrable) for the traits to shuffle around and result in a divergent “species.”

    It’s a lot like connecting the dots; experimentation has shown that A can connect to B; you are saying that there is no way that A can ever ultimately lead to, say, Q or S, because that would be too radical of a change (apparently due to some kind of magical, unexplained “genetic limits”). But if A can turn into the very similar B, and B can turn into the very similar C, and so on, then it is only logical to assume, based on that information alone (not even considering other evidence) that the process can and will continue.

    The “norm” of the species does change gradually, and time is necessary; if you think of it like a bell-curve, with the highest arc of the curve representing the “mainstream” genetic situation of the population, its evolution would refer to the shifting of this arc — trait shuffling and variation may cause the arc to “shift” to the left or the right, and what was once considered not too common within the population would come to be seen as the new “mainstream” situation (such as trait E in the earlier example). That represents a shift from A to B — from one similar position to another. A similar change, then, is also entirely possible from B to C — another similar, slight change. There is no point at which this change suddenly becomes “impossible;” as long as the population thrives and continues to produce new generations, and adapts to the nature of its environment and predators (which may also adapt in response, requiring constant “back-and-forth” adaptation across generations) there will always be gene variation, and so there will always be the potential for change.

    I think the burden here is on the Creationist/ID proponent to show how, when, and why evolution suddenly “ceases” when it reaches a certain point. I think the problem is partially that you are looking at species A as a “starting point” and species Q or S as a “finishing point;” that’s not really how it works. It would be more practical to think of every species as being a sort of “intermediate species” between two other species. We think of a “bird” or a “reptile” as a unique creature that has always existed as thus, and so we see some of the common ancestors of animals like these as “transitional” creatures, but in truth, the bird and the reptile are transitional themselves; they only seem “mainstream” to us because we have come to identify them based on the traits that are common within their populations during our time on earth. If we had lived here during the time of, say, the Archaeopteryx, we would probably not think of it as a “transition between birds and reptiles” but rather we would think of birds and reptiles as each “part archaeopteryx.” Fact is, the archeopteryx was here first, so actually, birds and reptiles are “transitional” from it….but then archeopteryx was probably transitional itself, in that sense, and so on backwards until you reach the common ancestor(s) of all life on earth. Every organism on earth is essentially “transitional.”

    With regard to your claim that the laws of logic are just in our minds: if I just had my private ideas of the laws of logic and you just had your private ideas of the laws of logic, we could never communicate or understand one another. They have to exist independently and immovably beyond us in order for intelligible communication to take place.

    1) Where do they exist? I can’t seem to find them anywhere. How can I measure them or confirm them?

    2) We could very well communicate; that’s like saying, since we have different ideas of morality that exist inside our minds, there is no way we can communicate or talk about morality. We can very well do that, we just have different ideas of what that is. Just like we can talk about musical taste even if we have very different ideas of what that is.

    Before any of us existed, would the proposition, “No humans exist” be true?

    We would not exist. However, “truth” is not a quality (it cannot literally describe something, it is poetic language), so no, the “truth” of that statement would not exist immaterially. “Truth” is a product of the ability to recognize something; if there is nobody to recognize it, then “truth” or “falsehood” is completely irrelevant.

    Reply
  272. Nathan Barley says:

    As Tim says, creationists need to demonstrate a mechanism for preventing small changes in alleles accumulating over time. Currently they are arguing something similar to
    a) We have observed water eroding soil over the course of a year, but because we’ve never directly observed it eroding for thousands of years, we refuse to believe that soil erosion wouldn’t just stop after an arbitrary period of time.
    To make such an assertion you need to propose a mechanism for arresting the erosion, and ideally present evidence of it too.

    By the way, if I can’t atomically weigh or find a molecule for ‘Wednesday’ then does that mean yesterday never happened? Of course not. These ‘no logic but through God’ arguments are even worse than the ‘no morality but through God’ claims. If you’re claiming that God is necessary for logic then you also presumably believe God can BREAK the rules of logic. How would that work? Can he both exist and not exist at the same time?

    Reply
  273. Toby R. says:

    You know the funny thing about evolution is that we don’t live long enough to observe the majority of it, but if our species lived for 5,000 years then we’d probably still be in the same boat as we are now. Theists would probably admit that other creatures evolve because we’d see glimmers of it in that time period. But in ourselves? Probably not. Unless we were mating like fiends and making generations as frequently today. But we’d probably quickly overpopulate and kill ourselves via war and disease.

    Reply
  274. Frank Turek says:

    Toby, Lenski just passed 50,000 generations of E Coli bacteria in Feb 2010. Through intelligent manipulation, he has gotten the metabolism to change slightly, but he still has nothing but E Coli bacteria. And after thousands of generations of intelligent fruit fly manipulation, all we have are fruit flies (and many are horribly deformed).

    Tim: “truth” is not a quality (it cannot literally describe something, it is poetic language)

    Frank: Do you not see the self-defeating nature of this? Is your statement mere “poetic language?” If what you say is true (which it can’t be because you say there is no truth), everything you have said on this blog– including your supposed truth statements about evolution– are mere “poetic language.”

    Back to micro to macro evolution– because something is possible (logical) doesn’t mean it is actual. Yes, it is possible that micro extrapolates into macro. The question is, does it? You can’t just “assume” it (as you say above). You have to prove it. There appear to be several reasons why it doesn’t happen including the ones I mentioned: genetic limits and cyclical not directional change. In other words, intelligent scientists cannot break genetic limits or get directional change.

    Again, why do you expect non-intelligent forces to do something that we with all our intelligence cannot do?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  275. Nathan Barley says:

    “genetic limits”

    Can you demonstrate these genetic limits? What evidence do you have that these limits exist? How do you explain ring species? How do you explain observed speciation? The ball is in your court regarding burden of proof.

    “he still has nothing but E Coli bacteria”

    Can you clarify what ‘proof’ you want? He turns bacteria into puppies?

    “Change is cyclical, not directional”.

    Frank, what do you mean by ‘not directional’? What does ‘direction’ even mean in this context? You seem to have gone from ‘scientists disagree on the mechanism’ to actually denying that speciation takes place. Only the most fringe of scientists deny speciation, and virtually no biologist does. That’s like going from ‘some historians disagree on whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone’ to ‘therefore we can’t be certain that JFK wasn’t killed by ghosts or was even killed at all’.

    Reply
  276. Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    Part of the problem, as I’m sure you know, is that there is no agreed upon definition of species. But however one defines species or the next category up (genus), there seems to be genetic limits to change. For example, the oft used example of dog breeding as analogous for macroevolution actually shows just the opposite. Breeders can intelligently manipulate dogs to get breeds as large as a Great Dane and as small as a Chiuaua but can go no further. Why do we expect non-intelligence to do so? (There’s a 2 column chart on page 143 of IDEFTBAA that details many other differences as well. You have the book.)

    The next page talks about the oft used Darwin’s finches actually shows that change is cyclical not directional. If you know of DEMONSTRATED directional change examples on a macroevolutionary level, please let me know what they are.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  277. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    I believe Nathan is right about specialization and the fact that you seem to deny it.

    This makes me curious about your worldview.

    You fully believe that the earth is 4+ billion years old.

    If you don’t believe that species evolve from one into another, then you must believe that G-d created man in his present from some time ago (as with all the other animals). Most people that put forth this proposition say this happened 6,000 years ago (or so), but you seem to also be a believer in archeology, which says otherwise.

    Anyway, so I’m really curious now, when did life appear; when did humans appear in your view?

    I guess the main views on this are either an old world with evolution which is just guided by G-d (so this view accepts evidence of speciation), or a young world in which G-d created life in it’s present form and species don’t evolve from one to another.

    You seem to find a middle ground between these positions, so I am curious as to your view of how this works.

    (To quote some poll results from a Gallup survey about evolution, in 2004, 45% of respondents said they believed that G-d created man in his present form within the last 10,000 years; 37% said man developed from lesser species, but G-d had a hand in this evolution; only 13% believed in evolution on man without G-d’s involvement. You seem to be in the remaining 5% which is is probably why I am unfamiliar with your view. This is why I am so interested.)

    Thanks a lot,

    Luke

    Reply
  278. Nathan Barley says:

    “Breeders can intelligently manipulate dogs to get breeds as large as a Great Dane and as small as a Chiuaua but can go no further.”

    Go no further than what? That’s pretty far. They already can’t breed naturally. This in just a few hundred years of selective breeding. Ring species knock a further hole in your claim.

    “there is no agreed upon definition of species”

    It’s a man-made term. Colloquially we mean it to mean two animals that can breed with each other to produce fertile offspring. Ring species makes this definition difficult to enforce, showing that the whole concept is quite slippery, more a pragmatic term that is generally useful to us.

    “oft used Darwin’s finches”

    The finches helped give Darwin the idea of natural selection. They’re not offered much nowadays of PROOF of evolution. Again, what do you mean by ‘directional’?

    Reply
  279. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    And this is a very analogous question, but I would love to hear a response to my post on November 21st, 2010 at 12:31 pm.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  280. Ed says:

    (To quote some poll results from a Gallup survey about evolution, in 2004, 45% of respondents said they believed that G-d created man in his present form within the last 10,000 years; 37% said man developed from lesser species, but G-d had a hand in this evolution; only 13% believed in evolution on man without G-d’s involvement. You seem to be in the remaining 5% which is is probably why I am unfamiliar with your view. This is why I am so interested.)

    It needs to be noted that all of those respondents were U.S citizens. Nowhere else on the planet does this kind of willful ignorance and scientific imbecility exit even in third world countries. I am ashamed of my fellow Americans because this kind of ignorance has made this country the laughingstock of the rest of the world.

    Reply
  281. Ed says:

    Biologists have demonstrated, in a study of the songs and genetics of a series of interbreeding populations of warblers in central Asia, how one species can diverge into two. Their description of the intermediate forms of two reproductively isolated populations of songbirds that no longer interbreed is the “missing evidence” that Darwin had hoped to use to support his theory of natural selection, but was never able to find.

    Salmon in a US lake split into two separate populations in just 13 generations, or about 60-70 years, researchers have revealed. Until now, it was believed that new species took hundreds or thousands of years to appear. The research paper by Hendry et al., appeared in Science 290 (5491)::516-518. It generated some interesting debate within the scientific community in later correspondence in that journal. News media reports about this paper typically overstated the case as demonstrating observed speciation. What it really demonstrated is the establishment of mating reproductive isolation (as yet incomplete) and genetic divergence reflected in measurable changes in body form. Thus, two of the three critical steps in the process of formation of new species has been and continues to be observed in these salmon.

    Reply
  282. Nathan Barley says:

    Frank, out of interest, what scientists did you run the ‘evolution’ parts of IDHEFTBAA past? In order to be prepared for and pre-empt criticisms, did you show it to any ‘mainstream’ biologists for fact checking, or only ‘Discovery Institute’-style scientists who already rejected mainstream biology?

    Reply
  283. Dan says:

    Since we can’t extrapolate Macro evolution forward, I just wish there was a way that we could look back and find the bones and remains of species that show a “tansition” from one to the other. If we could only find those, maybe they would show traits of genetic drift and changes due to environment loss or gain, over the last few 100 million years or so. They would probably be layered within the ground so they could be acuratly chronologically dated and compared to contemporaries and we could build a very accurate portrait of related species family trees.

    Reply
  284. Dan says:

    But that would be silly because what we have found is scrolls written by people who dripped dove blood from plants to cure lepers and sacrificed animals to please god. good thing we got those so we don’t believe all these “advances in science”

    Reply
  285. Frank Turek says:

    Dan,

    You can’t establish ancestral relationships from fossil remains. More than 99% of what we know about a creature is in it’s soft tissue, not its fossil remains. And both fossil remains (homology) and soft tissue data require interpretation– common ancestor or common designer? How can one differentiate? “Science” doesn’t tell us. It requires philosophy (reasoning, piecing together forensic clues, and making a judgment that is tentative at best). See my blog entry from about a year ago: “Science Doesn’t Say Anything: Scientists Do”

    Sorry gentlemen, but I am about to be tied up for over two weeks. We’ll have to pick this up some other time, maybe on a new thread.

    Blessings, especially this Holiday Season,

    Frank

    Reply
  286. Nathan barley says:

    “You can’t establish ancestral relationships from fossil remains”

    Who says? What’s the basis of your authority on this? At any rate, even if there were no fossils, DNA evidence alone is enough to establish common ancestry. The only way you can argue against this is to claim greater expertise than all those actually qualified in the subject. Using that method you could argue against virtually anything you wanted to.

    Reply
  287. Nathan barley says:

    “common ancestor or common designer? How can one differentiate?”

    Quite – one can claim the supernatural for anything you observe. How can you differentiate from Nathan posting and a ghost? That doesn’t mean each is as reasonable. Find some evidence for your claim.

    Reply
  288. John Ferrer says:

    Ed, are those songbirds genetically unable to interbreed or do they just not interbreed? I ask because, for example, one human may prefer not to breed with another, less attractive human, and there could be instinctive predispositions reaffirming that decision but that hardly proves different species of human.

    About the age of the earth, Nathan, I think that’s pretty much a side issue for ID theory. I’m not sure why it keeps coming up here except for the stubborn persistence (in ignorance) that ID is young earth creationism. I think you recognize that its not critical to ID, but maybe I’m mistaken and you do.

    Reply
  289. Luke says:

    John,

    I brought up the age of the earth in a question to Dr. Turek. Is that what you were referring to? My post lays out why I asked it.

    By the way, you never told me if you thought Einstein was a part time pseudo-scientists as your metric suggested (his predictions were proven wrong).

    Also, I’d still like to followe up on the sources you’ve used to make your claims here (you can refer to my posts for more detail).

    If anything though, I’s love to get your thoughts on my Nov 21 post about a fallen world. I have no theory of my own and would love to hear from you or Dr. Turek on the questions I asked.

    Thanks and I hope you you are doing well,

    Luke

    Reply
  290. Luke says:

    John,

    Do you agree with Dr. Turek that speciation does not occur? (Meaning every animal was created as is at some point by G-d.)

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  291. Dan says:

    I believe that every species was created by god. then killed by god and then he recreated the animals with tiny variations and then killed them again and then he created them again with small variations while leaving some that had found niches in their environment to live on and then he killed and recreated other species with small variation to the species before it and then he killed and recreated that species and replaced it with another similar species and hes been doing that for a few billion years now. that makes sense doesn’t it? no?

    Reply
  292. Luke says:

    Sorry for the many posts everyone.

    John, I think your post bring up one problem with ID as a valid scientific theory. It just doesn’t tell us very much! (It says much less than the theory of evolution, for example.)

    Maybe ID is simply a different discipline than evolution (I could agree to that).

    But ID can be true in a 6,000 year old earth and a 4,600,000,000 year old earth. It can be true with speciation occurring and without it. It can accept fossils being real and fitting into an ancestral tree, or it can accept them being fakes placed by the devil to confuse us.

    As a theory to explain “the origin of the species” it’s just has very little explanatory power. We can have multiple people who disagree wildly on when and how the various species got here and all fully accept an intelligent designer.

    Evolution does provide an answer to that origin question (whether or not it’s right), ID does not.

    (It seems that Dr. Turek for example believes this all happened in a way I’ve never even conceived!)

    Anyway, sorry just a general rambling thought about ID as a scientific theory. I’d appreciate anyone’s thoughts, not just yours.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  293. Nathan barley says:

    I asked because I’ve learned not to make any assumptions about how much of accepted science the bloggers on this site reject. I don’t want to patronise people so I ask what assumptions they’re starting with so we don’t waste time at cross purposes. I can’t make an analogy about science getting man to the moon if I’m talking to a ‘moon hoaxer’.

    Reply
  294. Toby R. says:

    “But ID can be true in a 6,000 year old earth and a 4,600,000,000 year old earth.”

    I think you’ve hit on something here, Luke. Why, if things are designed, should we expect to see an old earth with a fossil record that favors the evolutionary theory? If things are designed, then we could also extrapolate that the earth was designed to look aged (for who knows what reason; it’s a bit nefarious). Why would ID favor an old earth over a young one?

    Reply
  295. Ed says:

    John,
    The songbirds genetically unable to interbreed which means they are a new species. Dan why don’t you send your ideas to the Discovery Institute? They really need some new material over there. I mean there are only so many ways you can reword the worn out arguments of Thomas Aquinas which is all the Discoveroids have ever done.

    Reply
  296. Tim D. says:

    Toby, Lenski just passed 50,000 generations of E Coli bacteria in Feb 2010. Through intelligent manipulation, he has gotten the metabolism to change slightly, but he still has nothing but E Coli bacteria. And after thousands of generations of intelligent fruit fly manipulation, all we have are fruit flies (and many are horribly deformed).

    That’s wordplay. Yes, he has e. coli bacteria, but the traits of those bacteria are in some ways vastly different than the traits of their ancestors. They are different in many, many ways — for example, one of the twelve colonies of e. coli actually produced a mutation (around generation 20,000. IIRC) which caused it to be able to process citrate as a food source, as opposed to the normal strain of e. coli which can only utilize glucose (the flasks the bacteria were contained in had fair amounts of both citrate and glucose). This is a pretty vast mutation — it’s similar (in scale and in theory, not literally) to the idea of humans evolving an organ which can process nutrients from substances which were formerly considered inedible.

    I guess you’d say that “macroevolution” is really a matter of how far along the species can grow or evolve before it becomes different enough to qualify with a different name. After all, a species of lizard (for example) could be originally named because of its green skin, but then later it could evolve to appear in blue or red colors as well. Would that change the fundamental nature of the species? Probably not; the concept of that species is not really inextricably linked with the color of its skin. But what about subsequent evolutions? What if a thousand generations see the introduction or subtraction of organs, or entire organ systems, within the lizard? What if its descendants’ bones are shaped differently, or its joints aligned differently? How far can an organism change before we are comfortable classifying it as a different “species?”

    I agree with whomever said that not many evolution-accepters use the terms “macro-evolution” and “micro-evolution;” for one, they are synonymous because one is the logical conclusion of the other. It’s just a way for creationists and ID proponents to accept the smaller facts of evolution (so as not to be completely laughed out of the scientific community) without also accepting the overall implications of the theory. Second, though, this assumes that there is some kind of “magic threshold” over which the organism has to evolve before the change has been significant enough to call it “a different creature.” A creature evolves, and the changes accumulate; it doesn’t “micro-evolve” or “macro-evolve.” There is no difference between the two. “Macro-evolve” just means “micro-evolve for a long time.”

    Also, evolution does not usually occur in the “direct sequence” fashion so often portrayed in ID and creationism. Most species spider off into several different populations; the Endler guppy experiment demonstrated that, given different environments and different conditions for survival, guppies could evolve completely different traits in separate populations; they evolve differently, but they both evolve. There is no “goal species” towards which they both evolve, there is no “rail” along which the species change. They just change to suit their environment, and they continue to do so, never stopping. The only “limiting factor” is population size, which has no effect on this “macro-” or “micro-evolutionary” process; populations can continue to evolve even long after the population size itself has stablized. As long as there is enough genetic diversity for breeding, there is no “limiting factor” which prevents further adaptation.

    Frank: Do you not see the self-defeating nature of this? Is your statement mere “poetic language?” If what you say is true (which it can’t be because you say there is no truth), everything you have said on this blog– including your supposed truth statements about evolution– are mere “poetic language.”

    Humans invented language. So if you want to pretend like nothing I say “means” anything, then by all means go ahead. I’m just using symbols that we’ve all agreed upon to convey certain preconceived ideas. FTR, Mr. Turek, “poetic language” means “non-literal language.” When I say “something is true,” I’m not literally saying, “something has the quality of truth,” as I would be saying if I said, “something is red,” or “something is solid.” I am saying, “that statement reflects consistently with the state of reality to which it refers.” Which is to say, if I say “that object is red,” and that statement is “true,” that does not mean that the “truth” of this statement is floating around in a void somewhere, but rather that the object being described has the quality of redness. There is no need to assume the existence of some “metaphysical avatar” of “truthiness.”

    Back to micro to macro evolution– because something is possible (logical) doesn’t mean it is actual. Yes, it is possible that micro extrapolates into macro.

    For one, as you’ll recall, I said based solely on that evidence alone that it is logical to conclude so. That doesn’t mean that this is the only evidence for evolution, just that it’s the main evidence I’m focusing on because it’s the easiest and most obvious.

    Also, you’re incorrect; detectives, when solving crimes, rely on the very principle that what is logical is probable in order to convict criminals (or exhonerate innocents) based on forensic evidence. In that sense, what you call “macro-evolution” has been proven, beyond all reasonable doubt, such that it takes a lot more faith to ignore the evidence for evolution than it does to simply follow the sense of it.

    The question is, does it? You can’t just “assume” it (as you say above). You have to prove it.

    It has been proven. Evolution occurs; there is no evidence that change suddenly becomes impossible at some undefined point. What evidence is there that evolution ceases to function suddenly? And Where is the “genetic limitation,” exactly? At what point, in your mind, does evolution cease to be possible? Where is the “barrier” past which a population cannot evolve?

    There appear to be several reasons why it doesn’t happen including the ones I mentioned: genetic limits and cyclical not directional change.

    The change is neither directional nor cyclical; it is adaptive. “Directional” would imply that the species somehow “knows in advance” what it is “shooting for,” while “cyclical” implies that evolution is just running in circles (which is not true, or else we’d probably have seen many more generations of humans many hundreds of millions of years ago — why are there no “looping” generations of fossils, for one? Why is there such an interesting “flow” of anatomy among fossils?). Different populations of the same species, given different environments and different conditions, tend to evolve parallel to one another, often in completely different fashion as pertains to their environment. So there’s not much of a “cycle” nor much of a “direction” — at least, not an intentional or conscious direction. It’s more like “whatever direction it happens to go in.”

    You’re free to provide genetic evidence to the contrary, if you’d like to try, but the fact that one or two populations do not magically change into other creatures within two or three decades is simply not enough to say that evolution does not occur. The no-brainer explanation for this is that, when a population’s evolution reaches an ideal “point of balance” with its environment, such that its chances of survival are basically optimized within that environment, there is very little chance (or need) for drastic evolutionary change beyond that. In that sense you could say that the environment can limit evolutionary change; but again, this does not disprove that evolution occurs, because the environment is in constant flux — for one wild example, the average oxygen content of today’s atmosphere is said to flutter around 21%, whereas the oxygen content of the atmosphere during, say, the Devonian period, was up around 35%! So this ultimately culminates in even further evidence for evolution: If the environment can change that much, and the environment has been starkly demonstrated to influence the evolution of populations (as in the guppy experiment), then it follows that the environment can influence the direction of a species’ evolution.

    In other words, intelligent scientists cannot break genetic limits or get directional change.

    What is a “genetic limit?” To what are you referring, exactly? And what do you mean by “directional change?”

    Again, why do you expect non-intelligent forces to do something that we with all our intelligence cannot do?

    It’s really not relevant whether the driving force is intelligent or not; the fact is that the force is present. Predators in nature have the same effect as humans deliberately removing creatures from a population; environmental occurrences or disasters (such as underwater volcanoes erupting, or avalanches in the mountains, or large ice formations growing warmer and melting somewhat) have the same theoretical effect as (possibly even a greater effect than) the shape that humans give to artificial studying-environments. Whether god put it there, or whether it’s just there for no reason (or just there for some reason), the fact is that the conditions are there, and that they influence populations.

    In a way, you could say that nature is a lot like logic; logic doesn’t ask where the premise came from, it only tells you what happens IF the premise is true; the accuracy of the premise must be assumed beforehand in order for the proof to be meaningful. Likewise, in nature, the conditions for survival are like the logical precedent — nature doesn’t care where they came from, it just follows the natural conclusion of what happens once they are there.

    Part of the problem, as I’m sure you know, is that there is no agreed upon definition of species.

    There is, however, an agreed-upon definition of natural class, which refers to “all creatures which are closer cousins to each other than to any animal outside of the group.” The rest works from there, it would seem.

    It needs to be noted that all of those respondents were U.S citizens. Nowhere else on the planet does this kind of willful ignorance and scientific imbecility exit even in third world countries.

    Well, maybe not specifically regarding evolution/creationism/ID, but in parts of Africa (specifically where the Pope has the most influence), there is a startling amount of miseducation and misinformation being widely accepted regarding sexuality and sexual disease; for example, the often tragic myth that having sex with a female virgin will cure you of AIDS. Yeesh. Put that information in the hands of one of those guerilla-genocide cults and you have a problem of epic magnitude on your hands.

    Since we can’t extrapolate Macro evolution forward, I just wish there was a way that we could look back and find the bones and remains of species that show a “tansition” from one to the other. If we could only find those, maybe they would show traits of genetic drift and changes due to environment loss or gain, over the last few 100 million years or so. They would probably be layered within the ground so they could be acuratly chronologically dated and compared to contemporaries and we could build a very accurate portrait of related species family trees.

    Actually, there is a way to do that. By digging up foss…oh, wait, I c wut u did thar lol

    You can’t establish ancestral relationships from fossil remains. More than 99% of what we know about a creature is in it’s soft tissue, not its fossil remains.

    And more than 99% of statistics without proper source citation are made up on the spot to support an agenda 🙂

    “Science” doesn’t tell us. It requires philosophy (reasoning, piecing together forensic clues, and making a judgment that is tentative at best).

    Well, actually, religion does the exact same thing. We’re just interpreting religious texts, instead of fossil clues. Same problem, just more to work with in the case of evolution 🙂

    Ed, are those songbirds genetically unable to interbreed or do they just not interbreed? I ask because, for example, one human may prefer not to breed with another, less attractive human, and there could be instinctive predispositions reaffirming that decision but that hardly proves different species of human.

    As I recall, they are genetically unable. That’s what the whole fuss was about in the first place.

    Reply
  297. John Ferrer says:

    Ed and Tim, I’m not doubting you on this point I’m just interested in your sourcing for that point that certain speciated songbirds are genetically unable to interbreed. Do you have a source, preferably a short one, that backs this up? As I understood it, they were genetically able they just happened to not interbreed (perhaps by adapted preferences) or had speciated enough to where physiologically they could not (ie: the parts no longer fit).

    For the record, I grant some level of speciation for example between lions and tigers, between horse and donkey, etc. These can genetically interbreed, but there is enough difference in species to where its impractical and fruitless to consider them the same species.

    I just think there are too many presumptions involved in believing that accumulating micro-changes can generate macro-evolutionary change. The finches beaks, the gray moths, etc. are examples. And if I remember correctly, when you graph out the evolution of the E coli across the generational studies the change plateaus on the X axis. That is, change occurs over time, initially the changes are great, but they decrease over time and eventually stop so that no amount of additional time can generate that elusive leap from highly differentiated E coli to a different organism. Richard Dawkins makes this infamous blunder when he extrapolates limitless change from a graph where the curve goes fully vertical at the end. The addition of time (Y-axis) pulls the curve upward, but the lack of change means it cannot advance past a certain point on the X-axis which measures change.

    BTW, “unscientific” Intelligent Design predicts this outcome though, by your thoughts ID does not generate testable theories, or it’s theories just aren’t interesting enough to qualify as science, or they are fruitful enough to qualify.

    AS for the question on Einstein, I’m not saying wrong theories are all pseudo-science, they are just wrong. Einstein’s steady-state theory, for example, was plausible given his evidence base and it had sensible natural laws to appeal to, it just did not explain enough of the data. When that data was accounted for, the theory was exploded. Astrology, on the other hand is pseudo-science because it survives, despite falsification, on the basis of false claims at being scientific. It pretends to have natural causes when it does not. Such “false naturalism” is at least one kind of pseudo-science. To give another example on the border of pseudo-science, Phlogiston is not pseudo-science it’s just debunked and wrong.

    Reply
  298. Nathan Barley says:

    “I just think there are too many presumptions involved in believing that accumulating micro-changes can generate macro-evolutionary change.”

    So how do you explain the macro-evolutionary changes that we have so much evidence for, if they didn’t come about by small changes? If you’re trying to explain them by large changes then surely that’s an even bigger problem than smaller changes?

    Presumably you have some explanation for the fossil record, the DNA evidence etc? Are the fossils all faked, were they put there by the devil to trick people? Are they ‘magic’ in some way? Forgive me, but I’ve trying to work out how you manage to fit them into your worldview? Do you think mainstream biology is a kind of pseudoscience? Have all the discoveries we’ve made that rely on so-called ‘macro-evolution’ basically ‘lucky breaks’, massive coincidences? Have you read any books like Jerry Coyne’s ‘Why evolution is true’?

    Do you seriously reject it all on the basis of people like Plantinga (whose rejection makes no sense, for the reasons I already explained) or does it all basically come down to ‘this is how I interpret my holy book, and I’ll choose that interpretation over whatever evidence comes along’?

    Reply
  299. John Ferrer says:

    In my previous post, paragraph four, it should say, “or they are NOT fruitful enough to qualify.”

    Luke, I think you are getting it. Not everyone on this forum seems to understand what ID and so they are shooting right past the meat of the argument here. ID is not tied to a particular age for the earth, nor does it necessitate that all evolutionary claims are false, nor is it tied to religion, it is just a theory that some biological phenomenon are best explained as the product of intelligence. That is, [on the negative side of the argument] the given non-intelligent mechanisms such as the 4 Newtonian forces, natural selection, genetic shift, random mutation, etc. are inadequate such that significant gaps remain whereby what we KNOW of the natural world suggests they cannot feasibly be filled with the known natural causes. [On the positive side of the argument] We can infer that these gaps are filled with unknown causes that are LIKE natural causes (ie: they are like human intelligence)–this would be an argument from analogy (analogical arguments are a staple of the sciences) going from the known to the unknown by comparing similar or identical aspects (in this case, intelligence). Beyond that similarity, on the point of intelligence, ID is silent. ID makes no claims that everything is specially designed, nor that all such design will be perfect or maximally functional, nor that this designer is omnipotent, omniscient, nor that this designer is the God of the Bible, nor that rocks are designed, etc. etc. ID really can be a modest and responsible claim.

    While people object to ID in the strongest terms, they need to address why there is a problem with arguments from analogy (and all science argues by analogy between, for example, one experimental case and all other similar cases; one event now compared to past or future events; a rule fitting this case presumably fitting other cases, etc.), why “intelligence” is somehow unknowable so that we cannot identify it for analogical purposes, why information is so mysterious that it cannot evidence intelligence enough to serve in analogical arguments. Even if ID lacked verification, it may still qualify as science given its firm basis in the argument from analogy. Most of what people have been objecting in here is a side issue–that evolution explains a whole lot and doesn’t need ID. One can be a thoroughgoing evolutionist on the issue of speciation and still object that biogenesis requires some original design for the first life. Or one can be strongly in favor of evolution, and still grant that ID is a scientific theory which is yet unproven though it could in the future give a better explanation than evolution in regards to some particular biological phenomenon (ala, the position of Atheist Dr. Bradley Monton).

    Reply
  300. Toby R. says:

    “I just think there are too many presumptions involved in believing that accumulating micro-changes can generate macro-evolutionary change.”

    So having the one presumption that some supernatural designer waves a hand and poof there’s a species is more believable?

    Reply
  301. Toby R. says:

    Are you talking about gravity, weak and strong nuclear forces, and electromagnetism when you say 4 newtonian forces? Because those things aren’t referred to as that. Newton had three laws of motion.

    Reply
  302. Nathan Barley says:

    “nor is it tied to religion”

    A simple question: do you think that ID provides evidence for a deity?

    If ID tells us nothing about the sources of the intelligence, and could – so you tell us – equally by alien in origin, then that would mean it provides no evidence whatsoever for a deity.

    Rather than us shooting past the meat of your claim, I’m pretty sure it is you missing our point. I understand that it doesn’t have to be about a young earth. Our point is that, by definition, the supernatural has nothing to do with science. All the other disciplines you compare biology to are disciplines that would fall apart if you started introducing supernatural explanations.

    I challenge you to give me one discovery from science to which I could not claim that the supernatural was in fact responsible for.

    I’ve yet to see a single ID proponent put forward a test for ‘intelligent origin’. As Luke points out, if we didn’t know better we could point to snowlakes as being too complex not to be designed.

    If you’re starting from a position rejecting ‘macro-evolution’ then any conclusions you draw from that will also be unscientific, because you’re building a theory on a false position.

    Reply
  303. John Ferrer says:

    Nathan, your last post is just, wow. I don’t know where to start.

    “So how do you explain the macro-evolutionary changes that we have so much evidence for, if they didn’t come about by small changes? If you’re trying to explain them by large changes then surely that’s an even bigger problem than smaller changes?

    Reply: Be specific, which macroevolutionary change are you talking about? For one thing, punctuated equilibrium, though it lacks a lot of verification, it is a better explanation for say the Cambrian explosion than is micro-to-macro theories. ID theory works if even just one animal body-type was designed and the rest gradually evolved. So I should be careful and distinguish my theories on evolution from my defense for ID as science.

    “Presumably you have some explanation for the fossil record, the DNA evidence etc? Are the fossils all faked, were they put there by the devil to trick people? Are they ‘magic’ in some way? Forgive me, but I’ve trying to work out how you manage to fit them into your worldview? Do you think mainstream biology is a kind of pseudoscience? Have all the discoveries we’ve made that rely on so-called ‘macro-evolution’ basically ‘lucky breaks’, massive coincidences? Have you read any books like Jerry Coyne’s ‘Why evolution is true’?”

    Reply: I’ve read some pro-evolution stuff. But, frankly, most of this point is a non-sequitur when it comes to whether ID is science. One needs only one case where evolution or strict naturalism fails and design is a superior theory for ID to be a tenable scientific theory. I grant the entire fossil record, save the known forgeries–such as chiseled jaw bones that have been debunked by peer review investigations (Piltdown man). And I’m a strong advocate for the sciences including biology. I just don’t think any scientific theories are sacred–even evolution. Highly probable, widely verified, largely agreed upon–never certain. Certainty (ie: cartesian certainty) happens only in logic and math. Any answer that science offers can be rightfully question within the purview of science since science respects no dogma whatsoever.

    “Do you seriously reject it all on the basis of people like Plantinga (whose rejection makes no sense, for the reasons I already explained) or does it all basically come down to ‘this is how I interpret my holy book, and I’ll choose that interpretation over whatever evidence comes along’?”
    Reply: Complex question. I can’t answer that question because you are presuming an answer with it. You assume that i reject all of biology and all of the fossil record–when in fact I grant all of biological science and the fossil record (I grant evolution on a more tentative and skeptical basis than you however). And Plantinga’s argument really is not central to ID at all. So I fail to see how that “Evolutionary argument against naturalism” Plantinga is specific to the scientific status of ID. Plantinga’s argument speaks to issues of epistemology and the borrowed currency of “knowledge” and “truth” within materialistic worldview. I can forego his conclusion for the sake of argument, and my argument for ID as science, would be largely untouched.

    Reply
  304. Nathan Barley says:

    John, you brought up Plantinga, not me. I didn’t see why it was relevant, but you must have done to bring it up. Likewise when you said: “I just think there are too many presumptions involved in believing that accumulating micro-changes can generate macro-evolutionary change.”

    You’re making statements like that, then when we address them you reply that this has nothing to do with ID!

    ID depends on making assumptions about what can happen naturally, no? Unless you believe that one should equally reach for a supernatural explanation all the time when perfectly reasonable non-supernatural ones are available? eg Why not posit that someone had a spell cast on them when they exhibit the symptoms of athletes foot? Why not get a witch doctor rather than a podiatrist.

    Reply
  305. Luke says:

    John said:Astrology, on the other hand is pseudo-science because it survives, despite falsification, on the basis of false claims at being scientific.

    Is it the fact that it survives despite falsification that makes it pseudo science?

    Or is it the false claims at being scientific? (You said before that it could be science if not for the falsification. so it seems it’s the first criteria that matters. If not for the falsification, it would be science, as you said.)

    According to that logic, if I started a facebook group and convinced enough of people that Einstein’s universe was indeed the real one, it would then move back into the pseudo-science category according to your definitions.

    It would, after-all, persists despite falsification.

    So according to you, it’s not the merits of a theory that qualify it’s scienceness (yes, I know that’s not a word), it’s how many people believe it.

    Theories can move between science that’s no longer believed and pseudo-science depending on how many people believe it at any given time (whether or not the persists).

    I don’t think I can except this. It needs to be judged on merits in my view.

    By the way, I am sure there are some crackpots for whom steady-state persists as reality, so how many people do you need to say a theory persists? 3, 17, 183, 3,125, 42,566? How did you arrive at this number?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  306. Ed says:

    John,
    All of your arguments for ID have been annihilated right here on this blog. ALL of them. Like a typical Christian apologist you simply ignore the refutations of your ridiculous claims as if no objections had even ever been raised. That is the only way you can keep your very shaky belief system in tact. Good luck with that. When your house of cards comes tumbling down you’ll be in for some very rough times.

    Reply
  307. John Ferrer says:

    Nathan, the snowflake is specificity, not specified complexity. It does not analogize ID. Again, you do not seem to understand ID. Because you don’t understand it, you perhaps are not seeing that specified complexity IS that test for an intelligent origin. The higher degree of specified complexity the less explicable a given event is in terms of mechanical natural causes. And when a case of specified complexity is exceedingly strong, then the degree of intelligence we must infer would be proportionately greater than the known intelligences we are comparing too (that is, human intelligences). So that designer would have to be suitably intelligent. That may be supersmart aliens, but it may also be God. We however can search for aliens, and test against that theory–looking for the means of life on neighboring planets within travel distance to earth. Plus, we still end up, if we go with the alien hypothesis, asking where did alien intelligence come from–evolution or further intelligent design? so far, the best most reliable cause of intelligence is prior intelligence.

    About your other claim about deity and religion, not all admission or belief in a diety is religious (deism, practical atheism), nor is every denial of deity irreligious (classical buddhism, confucianism, taoism, religious humanism ala, Humanist Manifesto I). The U.S. Declaration of Independence, by your suggestion, is a religious document even though it defines itself as a secular government fortifying freedom of religion. Really it is non-religious document. It is essentially a natural law document with deistic allusions (ie: “All men are CREATED equal . . . endowed by their CREATOR . . .”).

    ID can be a modest claim and does not have to tell much at all about the sources of a given intelligence (ie: Dawkin’s objection of “But where did God come from?”). Every theory has its own respective domain, and ID cannot rightfully claim to explain where God came from or where the aliens came from, or where the gods came from, or where the impersonal intelligent life-force came from, etc. Theology, having fewer limits than science, can venture into such questions as can philosophy–but they also tend to have less reliable and demonstrable results. You guys often point out that Darwinism does not speak to the origin of life, just the origin of species. That’s not a hit against Darwinism, that’s just the border of that theory.

    You also say, ” I challenge you to give me one discovery from science to which I could not claim that the supernatural was in fact responsible for.”–I’m not sure what you are asking here. Are you asking me to give you a claim, for you to make, about how the supernatural is not causing something? Philosophically, someone can claim any cause for any event and still have a coherent claim. Scientifically, someone can claim any unknown cause behind any event and it can be at least theoretically testible. But that is just with “all else being equal.” The last time I guessed when I wasn’t sure what the person was saying I was wrong, so I’ll save any guesses for after your clarification.

    Reply
  308. Nathan Barley says:

    “not specified complexity”

    We already dealt with specified complexity. It basically means complex enough to do something specific. But whose determining what that specific thing is? You’re begging the question – assuming from the start that an intention was meant for it. Therefore, my comparison to a snowflake stands. Why don’t I just say that a snowflake has specified complexity because it specifically provides a nice decoration for us to look at? Why not say that a rock sticking out the ground has specified complexity because it’s just the right shape for me to rub my big toe against?

    Reply
  309. Nathan Barley says:

    “Are you asking me to give you a claim, for you to make, about how the supernatural is not causing something?”

    Supply me with something that happens naturally. Anything in the natural world where one thing happens and we can point to its natural cause. Rain falling from the sky, soil erosion, magnets, electricity, lightning, a rainbow, photosynthesis.

    There’s not one example there where someone couldn’t say “It could equally be the supernatural, you prove that it isn’t”. What would that person have to do to make their claim scientific?

    Reply
  310. Dan says:

    Hey John, My father-in-law is a biology professor, and I would really like to give him some ID experiments he can do with his class. Any suggestions?

    Reply
  311. Luke says:

    John said:Nathan, the snowflake is specificity, not specified complexity.

    Can you post the math equations to prove this please? You may well be right, but I haven’t seen the proofs.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  312. Luke says:

    John,

    By the same token, if an archeologist ran across an object which looked exactly like a snowflake, they wouldn’t assume it was designed, right? They’d think it wasn’t human made. Since archeologists use ID as a staple of their work to decide what was and was not designed.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  313. Ed says:

    Hey John, My father-in-law is a biology professor, and I would really like to give him some ID experiments he can do with his class. Any suggestions?

    Response: Yeah, tell them to try to make a woman from a man’s rib.

    Reply
  314. Ed says:

    “so far, the best most reliable cause of intelligence is prior intelligence.”

    Response: Okay what prior intelligence did God’s intelligence come from? Oops, I wasn’t supposed to ask that question was I? Do you ever bother to actually think through the arguments you repeat other people have made? Because we’ve all seen and heard these goofy arguments before which why any of us can easily refute them. Now answer the question and stop sidestepping and ducking our objections. What prior intelligence did God’s intelligence come from?

    “That’s not a hit against Darwinism, that’s just the border of that theory.

    Response: There is no such thing as Darwinism.

    Reply
  315. Nathan Barley says:

    “so far, the best most reliable cause of intelligence is prior intelligence.”
    …and therefore we assume an underlying intelligence cause to us?

    Again with the bait-and-switch of “intelligence” and “supernatural”. We could easily take your quote there and say instead:
    “so far, the best most reliable cause of ANYTHING is non-supernatural.”

    …Therefore we assume an underlying non-supernatural cause for life on this earth. I’m not saying we should make that assumption, just that that is the natural conclusion to make if we follow the same logic as your above quote.

    Wiki citing serious problems with Dembski’s ‘Specified Complexity’ idea:

    “…Critics cite reports of evidence of the kind of evolutionary “spontanteous generation” that Dembski claims is too improbable to occur naturally. For example, in 1982, B.G. Hall published research demonstrating that after removing a gene that allows sugar digestion in certain bacteria, those bacteria, when grown in media rich in sugar, rapidly evolve new sugar-digesting enzymes to replace those removed.

    Another widely cited example is the discovery of nylon eating bacteria that produce enzymes only useful for digesting synthetic materials that did not exist prior to the invention of nylon in 1935.

    Other commentators have noted that evolution through selection is frequently used to design certain electronic, aeronautic and automotive systems which are considered problems too complex for human “intelligent designers”. This strongly contradicts the argument that an intelligent designer is required for the most complex systems. Such evolutionary techniques can lead to designs that are difficult to understand or evaluate since no human understands which trade-offs were made in the evolutionary process, something which mimics our poor understanding of biological systems.”

    That ‘nylon-eating bacteria’ has a ‘specified complexity’ function, but it’s one that we know arose naturally.

    Reply
  316. matt says:

    Ed- I’ve not visited this blog for quite awhile, mostly because I have a hard time reading your posts. Most people on this blog from either side are able to argue in a dignified and polite manner. You, sir, are obviously lacking in tact and manners. You seem to be an angry person, and that is unfortunate. There is no doubt that you are intelligent, but your points lose credibility when they are spewed in such a contemptous manner.

    Reply
  317. Ed says:

    Nathan said: “Other commentators have noted that evolution through selection is frequently used to design certain electronic, aeronautic and automotive systems which are considered problems too complex for human “intelligent designers”. This strongly contradicts the argument that an intelligent designer is required for the most complex systems.

    Yes Brian Dunning points out that: “In fact, genetic algorithms (the computer software version of evolution), are starting to take over the world of invention with innovative new engineering advances that top-down designers like human beings might have never come up with. Bottom-up design is not only probable, it’s inevitable and nearly always produces better designs than any intelligent creator could have.”

    Reply
  318. Ed says:

    Matt we have to read arrogant insults to our intelligence like this from John Ferrer: “I can’t recall meeting a single materialist yet who understands the category mistake involved in leaping from matter to information. The only one I can recall who got it is now a deist. More often I find materialists wanting to reduce even human intelligence to mechanistic determinism.”

    Uh, we just don’t get it because we don’t have John’s supposed insight and intelligence. Insults are insults no matter how they are worded. The arrogance of the Christians on this blog is just off the charts.

    Reply
  319. matt says:

    Ed said: “Insults are insults no matter how they are worded”.

    Agreed. My point is just that you seem more to be more consistant and malicious with your ridicule than most anyone else here.

    Ed said: “The arrogance of the Christians on this blog is just off the charts”.

    That would mean that every Christian on this blog is arrogant, which I don’t think is the case. Nor is it the case for every non-Christian on this blog.

    And even if that statement were true, I’d propose to you that you have more than likely been taught since grade school that just because someone does something wrong, doesn’t mean you should do something wrong in return. Not that complicated.

    Reply
  320. Luke